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'Russian influence on Poland's domestic security requires thorough investigation': foreign ministry

30.05.2023 14:00
Poland's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the issue of "Russian influence on Poland's domestic security requires thorough investigation and public scrutiny," and that a newly established Polish state commission would probe such influences in a transparent manner while "providing due process in a fair procedure."
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.
The Polish foreign ministry building in Warsaw.Photo: gov.pl

The Polish foreign ministry was responding to a statement by the US State Department, which a day earlier voiced its concern over a new Polish law setting up a commission to investigate Russian influence in the country amid claims that the probe could be used to "interfere with Poland’s free and fair elections" and block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process.

"Poland appreciates our allies' opinions and remarks regarding our national legislation," the Polish foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. "Underlining strongly that this legislation remains within sovereign national competence of the Polish parliament, we are always ready to clarify and explain all potential misinterpretations and doubts about it."

The Polish foreign ministry also said that "Russian influence on Poland's domestic security requires thorough investigation and public scrutiny."

It added that "the newly adopted law on establishing a National Committee to investigate Russian influence on Poland's domestic security in the years 2007-2022 ensures such investigation to be carried out with public transparency to the fullest possible degree, providing due process in a fair procedure."

To "ensure impartiality, the Committee will be composed of members designated by all political groups in the parliament," the Polish foreign ministry said in its "Statement on Our Allies' Opinions and Remarks Regarding our National Legislation."

It further stated that "the proceedings will be carried out according to the principle of objective truth, with examination of all available evidence, presented also by the interested parties."

It added: "Furthermore, any party subject to a Committee's decision will have the right to appeal it to an administrative court in a two-instance procedure, and to request that it is provisionally suspended until the final verdict of the court."

The statement also said that "the Committee's work will not limit voters' ability to vote for their candidates in elections; on the contrary – it will provide the public with wider access to information about matters crucial to national security."

The statement concluded that "Poland highly values the alliance with United States and remains ready to engage in further dialogue through diplomatic channels."

US 'concerned' over 'potential use of new Polish legislation to target opposition'

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday that "the U.S. Government is concerned by the Polish government’s passage of new legislation that could be misused to interfere with Poland’s free and fair elections."

Miller added: "We share the concerns expressed by many observers that this law to create a commission to investigate Russian influence could be used to block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process."

"We call on the government of Poland to ensure this law does not preempt voters’ ability to vote for candidate of their choice and that it not be invoked or abused in ways that could affect the perceived legitimacy of elections," the US State Department spokesman also said.

'No doubt that the issue of Russian influence needs explaining': Polish president

Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced on Monday that he had decided to sign a disputed measure calling for the establishment of a state commission to investigate alleged Russian influence in Polish politics.

Duda approved the bill, proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, after it passed parliament on Friday on a final vote of 234 to 219, with one abstention, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The president, who is an ally of Poland's conservative government, told reporters that he had "no doubt that the issue of Russian influence needs explaining."

Duda also said on Monday that he was sending the law to the country's Constitutional Tribunal "so it could assess those of its provisions that have raised concerns.”

Polish opposition politicians have slammed the planned probe, saying it is specifically targeted at former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is the leader of the country's largest opposition grouping, the Civic Coalition, ahead of parliamentary elections in the autumn.

Meanwhile, the country's governing conservatives have denied that the inquiry is designed to target the opposition.

They have accused Tusk of having been too friendly toward Russia as prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and of making gas deals favourable to Moscow before he went on to become the president of the European Council, a top EU job that he held until 2019Britain's The Independent newspaper has reported.

US concerns 'based on insufficient analysis': Polish presidential aide

Ruling party spokesman Rafał Bochenek told reporters on Monday that “the proceedings of the state commission … will be supervised by the courts, and if the commission’s decisions are appealed against, they will require a final ruling by the administrative court" to take effect.

Marcin Przydacza senior aide to the Polish president, said on Tuesday that the US administration's concerns over Poland’s new commission into Russian influence were "based on insufficient analysis” of the panel’s powers.


Source: gov.plPAPstate.gov

Click on the audio player above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.