Polish Political Establishment decapitated

European politics and terror threat analysis.

Polish Political Establishment decapitated

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 13:51 #1

Poland in shock as president dies in crash
The Polish president Lech Kaczynski died after his plane crashed as it approached a Russian airport, killing 130 people.

Published: 10:22AM BST 10 Apr 2010

President Lech Kaczynski was travelling with his wife from Warsaw to Smolensk airport, 220 miles southwest of Moscow, when his plane crashed in thick fog.

Poland was left stunned by the news that their president, his wife, and a whole tier of the Polish elite had been killed.

A television newsreader fought back tears as she relayed the news that the head of the Polish army and the head of the presidential administration were also on board the plane, along with the president's wife and families of other senior officials.

The plane was also carrying the governor of Poland's central bank, Slawomir Skrzypek.


Sergei Antufiev, the regional governor of the Smolensk, said that everyone on board had been killed.

"It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces," Mr Antufiev, told Russia-24 television news network by telephone. "There were no survivors." Polish state news agency PAP also said there were no survivors.

William Hague, shadow foreign minister, wrote on Twitter: "Very sad this morning about the death of Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash – a brave man who was interned by the Communists for his beliefs."

Mr Kaczynski, 60, had been president since December 2005. He was married with one daughter.

Mr Kaczynski had been flying to Katyn, near Smolensk, to commemorate Russian and Polish victims of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Thousands of Polish prisoners of war and intellectuals were murdered at Katyn by Soviet forces in spring 1940 in an enduring symbol for Poles of their suffering under Soviet rule.

Families of those killed at Katyn were also on board the plane, the Polish government official at the airport said.

In the case of a president's death, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Mr Komorowski's assistant Jerzy Smolinski told Reuters.

Conditions around the airport were described as foggy when the Tupolev Tu-154 came down a mile from the airport.

Source
Bronisław Komorowski

Bronisław Komorowski [brɔˈɲiswaf kɔmɔˈrɔfskʲi] ( listen), of the Korczak coat of arms, (born June 4, 1952 in Oborniki Śląskie), is a Polish politician and the Civic Platform government's presidential candidate.[1] On 10 April 2010, president Lech Kaczyński was killed in an aeroplane crash in Russia.[2] As Marshal of the Sejm, the powers of the presidency devolve upon Komorowski as Acting President of Poland.[3]

Komorowski is the former Polish Minister of National Defence. In 2005 to 2007 he was a vice-marshal of the Sejm - the lower chamber of the Polish parliament. On November 5, 2007 he was elected to and took the office of the Sejm Marshal.

He is a vice-chairman of Civic Platform and has been endorsed for the Polish presidency by Lech Wałęsa.[4][dead link]

[edit] Youth

Bronisław Komorowski was born in Oborniki Śląskie. Komorowski is son of Count Zygmunt Leon Komorowski (1924–1993) and Jadwiga Komorowska (née Szalkowska) (1921-). His family comes from the territory of Aukštaitija, northern Lithuania, and the Komorowski family for 200 years ruled Żywiecczyzna in Poland. He is distantly related to Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Duchess of Brabant, via her mother Anna Countess d'Udekem d'Acoz born Countess Komorowska. From 1957 to 1959 he lived in Józefów near Otwock. From 1959 to 1966 he also attended elementary school in Pruszków. In 1966 he transferred to Warsaw and graduated from Cyprian Kamil Norwid High School no. 24.

For many years he was connected with the Scout Movement. He belonged to the 75th Mazovian Scout Team in Pruszków. During his studies he was a Scout instructor in 208 WDHiZ "Umbrella" Battalion in Mokotów. He met his future wife through Scouting.[citation needed]

In 1977 he finished his studies in the History Department of the University of Warsaw. From 1977 to 1980 was an editor at "General Word".
[edit] Dissident activity

During the Polish People's Republic (PRL) he acted in democratic opposition as an underground publisher, and co-operated with Antoni Macierewicz on the monthly Głos. In 1980 he was sentenced along with activists of the Movement for Defense of Human and Civic Rights to 1 month in prison for organizing a demonstration on 11 November 1979 (the judge who presided the trial was Andrzej Kryże). From 1980 to 1981 he worked in the Centre of Social Investigation of NSZZ "Solidarity". On 27 September 1981 he was one of the signatories of the founding declaration of the Clubs in the Service of Independence. He was interred while Poland was under martial law. From 1981 to 1989 he taught at the Lower Seminary in Niepokalanów.
[edit] Third Republic

From 1989 to 1990 he acted as manager of the office of minister Alexander Hall, and from 1990 to 1993, the civil vice minister of national defence in the governments of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Hanna Suchocka. In the early 90s he was involved with the Democratic Union and Freedom Union Unia Wolności. From 1993 to 95 he was general secretary of these parties.

As the candidate of the Democratic Union he was elected to parliament in 1991 and 1993. In 1997, during the 2nd Sejm, together with a group of Warsaw University activists under the management of Jan Rokita he created Koło Konserwatywno-Ludowe. In the same year Koło Konserwatywno-Ludowe joined the newly created Stronnictwo Konserwatywno Ludowe, which joined Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność (AWS). In 1997 Komorowski was elected as a candidate of AWS. From 1997 to 2000 he presided over the Parliamentary National Defence Committee, and from 2000 to 2001 served as the minister of national defence in the government of Jerzy Buzek. In 2001, while still a minister in the minority AWS government, Komorowski, along with with some activists from SKL, became a member of Civic Platform. He stood for election to the 4th Sejm as a candidate of PO. Again he was elected, this time for the Warsaw constituency. After the inauguration of the new parliament he resigned from SKL. Since 2001 he has been a member of the National Civic Platform Board. In the 4th Sejm he was the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee and a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He won election to the 5th Sejm in a district outside Warsaw. On 26 October 2005 he was elected Vice Speaker of the Sejm. 398 MPs voted in favour of his candidacy. His party had earlier recommended him as a candidate for Speaker. His candidacy, in defiance of precedent, was rejected by Law and Justice (PiS) which voted for Marek Jurek. This created an unfavourable climate further discussions regarding a PO-PiS coalition.

After the resignation of Marek Jurek as Speaker of the Sejm on 25 April 2007 Civic Platform announced Komorowski's candidacy for Speaker. On 27 April 2007 the Sejm rejected his nomination, and Ludwik Dorn from PiS became a new marshal. 189 MPs voted for Komorowski. Komorowski became Vice Speaker.

Komorowski took first place on the PO list for the Warsaw constituency in the 2007 parliamentary election and received 139,320 votes.

On March 27, 2010 he was chosen by PO members to be their candidate in presidential elections to be held in autumn 2010.

[edit] Marshal of Lower House

On 5 November 2007 in the first session of the 4th Sejm of the Polish Republic Bronisław Komorowski was elected Speaker by 292 votes. He stood against Krzysztof Putra from PiS who received 160 votes. Stefan Niesiołowski, Krzysztof Putra, Jarosław Kalinowski, Jerzy Szmajdziński were elected Vice Speakers.

[edit] Acting President of the Republic of Poland

He assumed the title of Acting President on April 10th, 2010 following the death of President Lech Kaczyński. His first decision as Acting President of Poland was to order six days of official national mourning beginning on April 10th.[5] According to the Constitution of Poland, Komorowski is required to call a presidential election within 14 days of assuming the position. The election must be held within 60 days of that announcement.

[edit] Family

Since 1977 he has been married to Anna Dembowska. He has five children: Zofia Aleksandra, Tadeusz Jan, Maria Anna, Piotr Zygmunt and Elżbieta Jadwiga.

Wikipedia
Civic Platform
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Platforma Obywatelska)

The Civic Platform (Polish: Platforma Obywatelska, PO) is a political party in Poland, that describes its stance as a synthesis of conservatism and Christian democracy. It has formed Poland's government since the 2007 general election, and is the largest party in the Sejm, the lower chamber of the Polish parliament. Civic Platform is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).

[edit] History
[edit] Foundation

Civic Platform was founded in 2001 as a split-off from existing parties. Founders: Andrzej Olechowski, Maciej Płażyński and Donald Tusk were sometimes jokingly called "the Three Tenors" by Polish media and commentators. Olechowski and Płażyński left the party during the 2001-2005 parliamentary term, leaving Donald Tusk as the sole remaining founder, and current party leader.

[edit] Development

In the 2001 general election the party scored 12.6% and won 58 deputies in the Sejm, making it the largest party in opposition to the government led by the Democratic Left Alliance.

[edit] PO-PiS failure

In 2005, the PO led all opinion polls with 26% to 30% support, however in the 2005 general election, in which it was led by Jan Rokita, the PO scored 24.1% and came second only to Law and Justice (PiS), which took 27,0%. A coalition of PO and PiS (nicknamed:PO-PiS) was expected to be the most likely government to form after the election. The putative coalition parties had a falling out, however, related to the fierce contest for the Polish presidency.

In the end, Lech Kaczyński (PiS) won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54.0% of the vote, ahead of Donald Tusk, the PO candidate. Due to the demands of PiS for all armed ministries (the MOD, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the office of the Prime Minister, PO and PiS were unable to form a coalition. PiS wanted to create a government it could dominate; therefore, PiS had to form a coalition with the support of the conservative Catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families and the agrarian-populist Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland parties which were later called the addons (in Polish przystawki) by the Polish media. Only with these parties could PiS create a government it would dominate. The PO became the opposition to this PiS-led coalition government.

[edit] Run for power

This coalition fell apart in 2007 amid corruption scandals[1] and internal leadership disputes. These events led to the new elections. In the 21 October 2007 National Assembly election, the party won 41.51 % of the popular vote and 209 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 60 out of 100 seats in the Senate of Poland. Civic Platform defeated the PiS in these elections and subsequently formed a government along with the People's Party.

[edit] Ideology

Civic Platform is a Christian-democratic and conservative party, combining conservative to liberal conservative stances on the economy with conservative stances on social and ethical issues, including opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, soft drug decriminalisation and civil unions, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research and partially to wide availability of in vitro fertilisation.

Core proposals in the party program included in the past privatization of the remaining public sectors of Polish economy; direct elections of mayors and regional governors; first-past-the-post electoral system instead of proportional representation; labor law reform; independence over monetary policy by the National Bank of Poland; a 15% flat tax; the decentralization of the state. As of third year of Civic Platform's rule, privatisation is creeping with only several enterprises privatised yearly[2], instead of tax-cuts the opposite was proposed [3].

[edit] Leadership
[edit] Chairmen

    * Maciej Płażyński (2001–2003)
    * Donald Tusk (2003–...)

[edit] Current Board

    * Donald Tusk - chairman, Prime Minister
    * Waldy Dzikowski - vice chairman
    * Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz - vice chairman, mayor of Warsaw, capital of Poland
    * Bronisław Komorowski - vice chairman, Marshal of Sejm
    * Jacek Saryusz-Wolski - vice chairman
    * Tomasz Tomczykiewicz - vice chairman
    * Grzegorz Schetyna - general secretary, floor leader in the Sejm
    * Zbigniew Chlebowski
    * Urszula Augustyn
    * Bogdan Zdrojewski - Minister of Culture and National Heritage
    * Andrzej Czerwiński
    * Cezary Grabarczyk - Minister of Infrastructure
    * Sławomir Nitras
    * Sławomir Nowak - chief of prime minister's Politic Cabinet
    * Andrzej Czuma

Wikipedia
APRIL 10, 2010, 8:46 A.M. ET

Skrzypek Death to Test Polish Central Bank

By MALGORZATA HALABA and MARYNIA KRUK

WARSAW -- Following the sudden death of Polish central bank governor Slawomir Skrzypek in a plane crash Saturday, his first deputy, Piotr Wiesiolek, will become interim chief, according to Poland's central-bank law.

Analysts said that the governor's death is unlikely to change the path of monetary policy but that the appointment of Mr. Skrzypek's permanent successor will be a test of whether Poland's ruling Civic Platform party will be tempted to impinge on the central bank's independence.

Mr. Skrzypek died along with President Lech Kaczynski and many other top Polish officials in a plane crash in western Russia.

"Since this [transfer of power] mechanism has never been tested, it's unclear who will name a new permanent central bank chief," said Mateusz Szczurek, chief economist at ING Bank Slaski in Warsaw.

Under the central bank's law, the central bank's governor is appointed by the Parliament, but it's the president who nominates the candidate. "Now there is a question who will nominate the candidate in the president's absence," said Marcin Mrowiec, chief economist at Bank Pekao SA in Warsaw.

If the appointment takes place before a new president is elected in an election now likely to take place around midyear, Bronislaw Komorowski, who as parliamentary speaker becomes acting president, will make the choice.

Mr. Komorowski is also Civic Platform's official candidate for the presidency.

In recent weeks, the management board of the central bank, led by Mr. Skrzypek, had come into open conflict with six members of the council after a council majority voted to change the rules dictating how the bank's net profit was calculated.

Since most of the council has been appointed by the ruling Civic Platform, analysts had become concerned whether the conflict -- and its outcome -- threatened the central bank's independence.

Thus, the name of Mr. Skrzypek's successor becomes crucial, Mr. Mrowiec said.

"Right now Poland enjoys a very positive image among investors," he said. "But if the markets start to doubt the central bank's independence, it could raise the cost of Polish debt and weaken the zloty."

But, paradoxically, Mr. Skrzypek's death may mobilize both sides of the conflict to reach a compromise, Mr. Mrowiec said.

Write to Malgorzata Halaba at malgorzata.halaba@dowjones.com and Marynia Kruk at marynia.kruk@dowjones.com

Source
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 14:02 #2

Polish leader, 95 others dead in Russia jet crash

By JIM HEINTZ (AP) – 14 minutes ago

MOSCOW — Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of the country's highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said.

Russian and Polish officials said there were no survivors on the 26-year-old Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre in Katyn forest of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

The crash devastated the upper echelons of Poland's political and military establishments. On board were the army chief of staff, national bank president, deputy foreign minister, army chaplain, head of the National Security Office, deputy parliament speaker, civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers, the Polish foreign ministry said.

Although initial signs pointed to an accident with no indication of foul play, the death of a Polish president and much of the Polish state and defense establishment in Russia en route to commemorating one of the saddest events in Poland's long, complicated history with Russia, was laden with tragic irony.


Reflecting the grave sensibilities of the crash to relations between the two countries, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally assumed charge of the investigation. He was due in Smolensk later Saturday, where he would meet Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was flying in from Warsaw.

"This is unbelievable — this tragic, cursed Katyn," Kaczynski's predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said on TVN24 television.

It is "a cursed place, horrible symbolism," he said. "It's hard to believe. You get chills down your spine."

Andrei Yevseyenkov, spokesman for the Smolensk regional government, said Russian dispatchers asked the crew to divert from the military airport in North Smolensk and land instead in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus, or in Moscow because of the fog.

While traffic controllers generally have the final word in whether it is safe for a plane to land, they can and do leave it to the pilots' discretion.

"The crew made an independent decision to land in Smolensk," Yevseyenkov said in televised remarks.

Russia's Emergency Ministry said there were 96 dead, 88 of whom were part of the Polish state delegation. Poland's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Piotr Paszkowski, said there were 89 people on the passenger list but one person had not shown up for the roughly 1 1/2-hour flight from Warsaw's main airport.

Some of the people on board were relatives of those slain in the Katyn massacre. Also among the victims was Anna Walentynowicz, whose firing in August 1980 from the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk sparked a workers' strike that spurred the eventual creation of the Solidarity freedom movement. She went on to be a prominent member.

"This is a great tragedy, a great shock to us all," former president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said.

The deaths were not expected to directly affect the functioning of Polish government: Poland's president is commander in chief of its armed forces but the position's domestic duties are chiefly symbolic. Most top government ministers were not aboard the plane.


According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 66 crashes involving Tu-154s, including six in the past five years. The Russian carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew its Tu-154 fleet from service.

Poland has long discussed replacing the planes that carry the country's leaders but said they lacked the funds.

The presidential plane was fully overhauled in December, the general director of the Aviakor aviation maintenance plant in Samara, Russia told Rossiya-24. The plant repaired the plane's three engines, retrofitted electronic and navigation equipment and updated the interior, Alexei Gusev said. He said there could be no doubts that the plane was flightworthy

The plane tilted to the left before crashing, eyewitness Slawomir Sliwinski told state news channel Rossiya-24. He said there were two loud explosions when the aircraft hit the ground.

Rossiya-24 showed footage from the crash site, with pieces of the plane scattered widely amid leafless trees and small fires burning in woods shrouded with fog. A tail fin with the red and white national colors of Poland stuck up from the debris.

Polish-Russian relations had been improving of late after being poisoned for decades over the Katyn massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers.

Russia never has formally apologized for the murders but Putin's decision to attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week in the forest near Katyn was seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation. Kaczynski wasn't invited to that event. Putin, as prime minister, had invited his Polish counterpart, Tusk.

Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev both called Tusk to express their condolences and they promised to work closely with Poland in investigating the crash. Tusk said they had been the first to offer condolences.

"On this difficult day the people of Russia stand with the Polish people," Medvedev said, according to the Kremlin press service.

Putin told Tusk that he would keep him fully briefed on the investigation, his spokesman said.

Rossiya-24 showed hundreds of people around the Katyn monument, many holding Polish flags, some weeping.

Poland's parliament speaker, the acting president, declared a week of national mourning. Tusk called for two minutes of silence at noon (1000GMT) Sunday.

"The contemporary world has not seen such a tragedy," he said.

In Warsaw, Tusk also called an extraordinary meeting of his Cabinet and the national flag was lowered to half-staff at the presidential palace, where several thousand people gathered to lay flowers and light candles. Black ribbons appeared in some windows in the capital.

Kaczynski, 60, was the twin brother of Poland's opposition leader, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Kaczynski's wife, Maria, was an economist. They had a daughter, Marta, and two granddaughters.

Lech Kaczynski became president in December 2005 after defeating Tusk in that year's presidential vote.

The nationalist conservative had said he would seek a second term in presidential elections this fall. He was expected to face an uphill struggle against Parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, the candidate of Tusk's governing Civic Platform party.

The constitution says the parliament speaker announce early elections within 14 days of the president's death. The vote must be held within another 60 days.

Poland, a nation of 38 million people, is by far the largest of the 10 formerly communist countries that have joined the European Union in recent years.

Last year, Poland was the only EU nation to avoid recession and posted economic growth of 1.7 percent.

It has become a firm U.S. ally in the region since the fall of communism — a stance that crosses party lines.

The country sent troops to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and recently boosted its contingent in Afghanistan to some 2,600 soldiers.

U.S. Patriot missiles are expected to be deployed in Poland this year. That was a Polish condition for a 2008 deal — backed by both Kaczynski and Tusk — to host long-range missile defense interceptors.

The deal, which was struck by the Bush administration, angered Russia and was later reconfigured under President Barack Obama's administration.

Under the Obama plan, Poland would host a different type of missile defense interceptors as part of a more mobile system and at a later date, probably not until 2018.

Kaczynski is the first serving Polish leader to die since exiled World War II-era leader Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski in a plane crash off Gibraltar in 1943.

In the village of Gorzno, in northern Poland, the streets were largely empty as people stayed home to watch television.

"It is very symbolic that they were flying to pay homage to so many murdered Poles," said resident Waleria Gess, 73.

"I worry because so many clever and decent people were killed," said high school student Pawel Kwas, 17. "I am afraid we may have problems in the future to find equally talented politicians."

Associated Press writers Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Deborah Seward in Paris, John Daniszewski in Centerville, Ohio, and Naomi Koppel in London contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Source
Tragedy in Smolensk
Poland's President Lech Kaczynski dies in a plane crash

Apr 10th 2010 | From The Economist online

POLAND’S awful history makes it no stranger to tragedy, grief and shock. But not for decades has it suffered a trauma such as the death of President Lech Kaczynski, along with dozens of other senior Polish politicians and officials, in an air crash on April 10th.

The presidential plane was carrying a delegation to Katyn, to commemorate the mass murder of a previous Polish elite: the 20,000 reservist officers murdered by Stalin’s NKVD in 1940.

The symbolism of the tragedy to many Poles is almost unbearable. In 1943 General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the leader of the Polish wartime government, died in a plane crash in Gibraltar. No foul play was proved there, but many Poles believe that he was murdered because of his resolute determination to expose the Katyn massacre—which the Soviet Union blamed on the Germans. Now another Polish president, closely involved in the same issue, has died in an all too similar manner.


Polish historical sensitivies about Russia mean that many see the coincidence as sinister rather than tragic. But the plane tried to land four times, in bad weather. Accident is the overwhelmingly likely cause.

Yet like Katyn, which eliminated the flower of the pre-war Polish elite, the plane crash also seems like a decapitation of Polish society. Among the 96 people who died were the chief of the Polish general staff, the head of the central bank, the director of the Institute of National Remembrance (which investigates and documents crimes such as Katyn) and many other of the country’s top public figures. Many politicians from the opposition Law and Justice Party, which is led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the late president’s twin brother, were among the delegation.

A growing pile of flowers outside the presidential palace in Warsaw attested to the public’s stunning sense of loss. Radek Sikorski, the foreign minister, who broke the news to the prime minister Donald Tusk this morning and said that the head of government wept on hearing it. Both men had been at Katyn earlier in the week, at a ceremony attended by the Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin. The hawkish Mr Kaczynski did not attend that ceremony, instead insisting on his own visit three days later.

The tragedy brings big upsets in Polish political life and in other institutions. The presidential elections, due to be held in October, will be brought forward. Mr Kaczynyski had been facing a tough challenge from Bronislaw Komorowski, a close ally of Mr Tusk’s. Mr Komorowski is also speaker of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament. In that capacity, he now becomes acting president.

Mr Kaczynski, like his brother, was known for personal integrity and his deep roots in Poland’s anti-communist opposition movement. He was a vehement critic of both German and Soviet historical crimes against Poland, and a strong supporter of countries such as Georgia. He was modest and charming in private, although visibly ill-at-ease on big public occasions and prone to gaffes and unnecessary controversies.

Mr Kaczynski’s wife, Maria, died in the crash. The couple had one daughter.

Source
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 15:18 #3

Polish president Lech Kaczynski: a profile
Polish president Lech Kaczynski is feared dead after his plane crashed while travelling to Russia.

By Matthew Day in Warsaw
Published: 10:53AM BST 10 Apr 2010

The Smolensk plane crash brings to an end the life of one of the dominant forces of Polish politics.

Lech Kaczynski, as either president or party politician, stamped his name on the Polish political scene to become one of the most influential and powerful men in the country, earning a reputation for being a sharp and shrewd political operator.

He was also a man happy to court controversy.

Exhibiting a prickly sense of nationalism that brought him into frequent conflict with Donald Tusk, the prime minister, the 60-year-old president also faced accusations of siding with his identical twin brother Jaroslaw, the leader of Poland's main opposition party, to foil the government's reform programme.

Along with his twin, President Kaczynski cut his political teeth by joining Lech Walesa's Solidarity trade union in the fight against communism. With the fall of the socialist state in 1989 he briefly served in the office of then president Lech Walesa, before Mr Walesa fired him.

His sacking sparked a long and bitter battle with the former Solidarity leader that tainted the rest of Lech Kaczynski's political career. He became convinced that the Nobel Prize winner had, by striking an agreement with Poland's last communist government, sold out the Solidarity revolution, and allowed elements of the socialist state's security apparatus to live on.


It was the belief that Poland needed to clean its house of the remnants of communism that led to Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski to form the Law and Justice Party in 2001. Along with trumpeting a socially conservative agenda, the party promised to crack down on corruption and purge Poland of the unwanted traces of the socialist state.

After serving as mayor of Warsaw for three years, in October 2005 Lech Kaczynski triumphed in presidential elections to become Poland's head of state. When Law and Justice won the Polish general election a month later, ushering Jaroslaw into the prime minister's office, Poland found itself in the unusual situation being run by identical twins.

In an attempt to downplay the fact that twins occupied the two most powerful posts in Polish politics, Lech and Jaroslaw, who many had trouble telling apart, were rarely seen together in public, and bridled when people referred to them as a single political entity rather than individuals.

After Law and Justice was defeated in general elections in 2007, President Kaczynski found himself in a bitter battle with Donald Tusk, the new prime minister. A series of very public clashes between the two men over who controlled Polish foreign policy prompted the prime minister to suggest changes to the Polish constitution to limit presidential power.

The government also complained of President Kaczynski's frequent use of the presidential veto, which stalled a series of key reform programmes.


President Kaczynski was due to fight for re-election this year in October.

Source
The New York Times: Kaczynski Often a Source of Tension Within E.U.
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 15:52 #4

Russia, Poland eye reconciliation at WWII mass grave

By Lidia Kelly, REUTERS

Last Updated: April 7, 2010 2:07pm

KATYN, Russia - The leaders of Russia and Poland paid tribute on Wednesday to Russian and Polish victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and vowed to overcome painful historic memories that still hamper their bilateral relations.

At a sombre ceremony in Katyn forest, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged Poles not to blame the Russian people for the murder of 22,000 Polish officers by Stalin’s NKVD secret police in 1940 and to look to the future, not just the past.

“We cannot change the past but we can establish and preserve the truth and that means historical justice. Polish and Russian historians are now working to uncover this truth and to allow an opening between our countries,” said Putin.

The mass murder of thousands of Polish prisoners of war and intellectuals at Katyn in spring 1940 — just months after Nazi Germany and Stalin carved up Poland — is an enduring symbol for Poles of their suffering under totalitarian Soviet rule.

For many decades Moscow blamed the Nazis for the deaths and only acknowledged its responsibility in 1990, a year after the fall of communism in Poland. The Kremlin has resisted Polish calls to brand the Katyn massacre a “genocide”.

The tranquil site, set among pine and birch trees in western Russia, also contains the graves of many Russians executed on Stalin’s orders, including during the Great Terror of the 1930s.

As expected, Putin, a former agent in the KGB, a successor organization to Stalin’s NKVD, did not apologize for the Katyn murders, and he stressed the common suffering of Russians, Poles and other ethnic groups under Stalin’s rule.

“With decades of cynical lies, they tried to blot out the truth about the Katyn shootings. It would be a similar kind of falsehood to ... place the blame for these crimes on the Russian people,” Putin said.

“However hard it may be, we must try to ... come to terms with a common historical truth and realize that we cannot go on living in the past alone.”

RECONCILIATION

Wednesday’s commemoration crowns a steady improvement in relations between Russia and Poland, though differences remain over energy security, missile defence and NATO enlargement.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a pragmatist who wants to build closer economic ties with energy-rich Russia, told a joint news conference that Putin may visit Poland this year.

Putin said the two countries would sign “in the near future“ a recently agreed deal securing Russian gas deliveries to Poland until the year 2037.

On Katyn, Tusk urged reconciliation based on honesty about past crimes.

“Prime Minister Putin, the eye sockets of those killed here by a shot to the back of the head are looking at us today and waiting to see whether we are ready to turn this lie into reconciliation,” Tusk said at the memorial ceremony.

A commission of Russian and Polish historians is due to publish a book this year on the neighbours’ difficult shared history. It is expected to include a common position on Katyn.

Putin and Tusk, both wearing black ties, laid wreaths in both the Russian and Polish cemeteries and heard prayers offered by Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim clergy.

Among those attending the ceremony were ex-Polish president Lech Walesa, who as leader of the Solidarity trade union helped topple communism in 1989, and Andrzej Wajda, the Polish director whose film “Katyn””was recently aired on Russian television.

Polish officials, who have been irked by some recent attempts in Moscow to whitewash aspects of the Soviet past and to present Stalin as a heroic figure, welcomed Putin’s conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

“This is a step in the right direction, though not yet a breakthrough,” said Bronislaw Komorowski, who is the candidate of Tusk’s ruling Civic Platform in Poland’s presidential election due later this year.

“I hope Prime Minister Putin’s words about the Russian victims mark an era of coming to terms with Russia’s Stalinist past. That would help democratization in Russia and also help our bilateral relations,” Komorowksi told Polish television.

Source
'Mister Premier, they are here after all, they lay in this earth,' Tusk said of the victims at Katyn. 'Their orbits look out through their shot skulls and they're waiting, to see if we're capable of turning violence and lies into unity.'

Source
(AFX UK Focus) 2010-03-31 18:43
UPDATE 2-Polish c.bank head, council clash over 2009 profit
Article layout: raw

By Kuba Jaworowski and Gabriela Baczynska

WARSAW, March 31 (Reuters) - There were fresh signs of conflict between Poland's central bank governor and fellow policymakers on Wednesday which analysts said reflected a political divide on the 10-strong Monetary Policy Council.

In an unprecedented scene at the bank's news conference after its monthly decision on interest rates, council member Anna Zielinska-Glebocka was passed a note by governor Slawomir Skrzypek.

Zielinska-Glebocka read out the note as saying: "You are not telling the truth".
Skrzypek, at the centre of a row over how much profit the bank will contribute this year to state coffers, declined to elaborate on what the note said.

Most of the bank's new council were appointed by Poland's centre-right government earlier this year. Skrzypek by contrast was appointed in 2007 by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, a founder of main opposition party Law and Justice.

Skrzypek also has a dual role as governor chairing the council and running the bank's board and staff, and has run foul of the government in recent months in a row over how much profit the bank would record for 2009 and hence pass to the budget.

On Wednesday he said this profit would be 4.2 billion zlotys ($1.46 billion) -- less than half of some government estimates.

The MPC also passed a resolution on the issue of the profit during its two-day meeting which ended on Wednesday, but policymakers declined to give any details of what it said.

When asked to clarify, Zielinska-Glebocka said:

"The MPC defines the rules on creating reserves. It has passed a resolution and the board has a certain problem now, concerning what governor Skrzypek has said...the rest you have to find out when the embargo (on publishing the resolution) ends." She did not elaborate on when the resolution might be published.

LAW

By Polish law, 95 percent of the central bank's profit must be transferred to the state budget, although the central bank's management can set some cash aside, creating currency reserves in case it expects significant exchange rate changes.

Both sides refused to say whether Skrzypek's profit estimate was final, or whether the MPC's resolution had invalidated it and would force the board to recalculate the number.

Later on Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk met with the MPC and his top economic aide, Michal Boni, told Reuters that both parties had decided to give each other three weeks to think about the situation before meeting again.

"We have discussed the rules of cooperation and how to avoid an institutional crisis between important state bodies. We have discussed those issues, also the particular ones, which create this tension and threat," Boni said.

The bank's 2009 profit, extending the International Monetary Fund's Flexible Credit Line (FCL) to Poland, and adoption of the euro currency are among issues where Tusk and Skrzypek differ.

Poland is scheduled to hold presidential elections this autumn and Kaczynski, who counts Skrzypek among his longtime political allies, is widely expected to seek another term. But public opinion surveys suggest he would lose to Tusk's Civic Platform candidate, parliamentary speaker Bronislaw Komorowski.

"The fact that the conflict inside the MPC is coming out in public in such a way is very bad -- this should stay behind locked doors," said Janusz Jankowiak, economist at business lobby group Polska Rada Biznesu.

Analysts said it appeared unlikely that any officials would end up resigning because of the conflict over the central bank's profit, but that it might eventually start to affect financial market sentiment if it dragged on.

"Some investors may think that the bank is focusing more on the conflict rather than on monetary policy," said Piotr Kalisz, chief economist at Citibank Handlowy in Warsaw.

"I don't think this will have a direct impact on the markets but the more information like this we get, if market sentiment worsens, this may weaken it further -- especially given there is some talk about dropping the FCL."

(Additional reporting by Marcin Goettig, writing by Karolina Slowikowska; Editing by Patrick Graham and Andrew Torchia) Keywords: POLAND CBANK/CONFLICT (karolina.slowikowska@reuters.com; +48 22 653 9725; Reuters Messaging: karolina.slowikowska.reuters.com@reuters.net)

Source
Elections 2010
Mitteleuropa goes to the polls
Published on March 31 2010 | Lidové noviny

....

Future president may have little to do (Polish presidential election in September or October)

Next year, Prime Minister Donald Tusk may acceded to a level of power that no Polish politician has exercised since the end of communist rule in 1989. Does anyone know the name of the German president? No, given that he has a largely ceremonial role, not many people do. And this is precisely the type of presidency that Tusk, who leads the ruling Civic Platform, wants to see adopted in Poland. The incessant quarrels that have marked his relationship with Polish President Lech Kaczyński, who under the current constitution has the option of blocking policy measures, have convinced Tusk that he has to make a choice: either he has to run for president himself, or he will have to limit the powers granted to the head of state. He appears to have opted for the second of these solutions. And, according the polls, he will have sufficient support in parliament to change the constitution to attain this objective. It matters little whether Lech Kaczyński (who still has a chance) or the Civic Platform candidate Bronisław Komorowski wins the presidential election because both contenders have markedly similar opinions on a wide range of issues: Poland's role in the EU and in NATO (should be strengthened), the euro (should be adopted but not in a hurry), relations with Russia (next), lustration (former members of the communist regime should be investigated), "decommunisation" (let's do it!), the Catholic Church (should be protected), abortion (should probably be outlawed), gays (what gays?). Journalist and Czech language and culture specialist Aleksander Kaczorowski is the deputy editor of the Polish edition of Newsweek.

Source
The Irish Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Speaker wins Polish presidential primary

WARSAW – Poland’s parliament speaker, Bronislaw Komorowski, is on track to become president later this year after his landslide victory in a US-style primary election at the weekend, analysts said yesterday.

A majority of prime minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) party backed Mr Komorowski (58), for the presidential race in the autumn in an internal party contest – the first time a primary has been held in Poland.

If elected, Mr Komorowski, a PO insider, would co-operate smoothly with the government and probably not block government legislation – as the current conservative president, Lech Kaczynski, has done.

“Unless some completely unexpected developments rock the political scene, it looks like Komorowski has the presidency,” said Jacek Kucharczyk, head of Warsaw’s Institute of Public Affairs think tank.

Mr Kaczynski has not yet said he will seek another five-year term, but analysts expect him to make the announcement in May.

A telephone survey conducted by Millward Brown SMG/KRC on Sunday, after the announcement of the primary result, showed Mr Komorowski winning 38 per cent of votes in the first round of a presidential election, ahead of Mr Kaczynski with 21 per cent.

The survey showed that Mr Komorowski would get 60 per cent in the second round, against 27 per cent for Mr Kaczynski.

Under Polish law the speaker of the lower chamber announces the election date, and Mr Komorowski has until late June to do that. Analysts expect voting to take place in September or October. – (Reuters)

Source
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 16:06 #5

Poland’s President, Bank Governor Die in Plane Crash (Update4)
April 10, 2010, 10:54 AM EDT

(Adds comment from IMF’s Strauss-Kahn in 16th paragraph.)

By David McQuaid and Piotr Skolimowski

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski and central bank Governor Slawomir Skrzypek were killed today along with several key members of the country’s political elite when their plane crashed in western Russia, where they were to mark the 70th anniversary of a massacre of Polish officers.

The 60 year-old president’s wife, Maria, and leaders of the country’s main opposition parties and military, including the Army Chief of Staff Franciszek Gagor, also died in the crash, which happened as the aircraft was on approach for landing in Smolensk, Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said in a phone interview. The crash killed all 96 on board, including 88 passengers and 8 crew, according to Russia’s Emergency Ministry.

Under Poland’s constitution the duties of the president, which are largely ceremonial, will be taken over by the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski. He has 14 days to announce a presidential election, which must be held within two months. Komorowski is the candidate of Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform party and polls show he was poised to defeat Kaczynski in presidential elections, originally scheduled for the second half of the year.

“This is the most tragic event in the history of Poland outside wartime,” Tusk said in a televised speech. “Such a dramatic event is unprecedented in the modern world.”

Executive power under Poland’s constitution is concentrated in the hands of the prime minister as head of government. The president has the power to veto legislation and make some appointments, including generals, judges, ambassadors and the governor of the central bank.

Poles Praying

Piotr Wiesiolek, a deputy governor of the central bank, will temporarily assume the governorship.

Hundreds of Poles gathered in front of the presidential palace, lighting candles, laying flowers and praying. The roads leading to the palace were crowded with onlookers as the police blocked off the surrounding area. Churches around the country announced services to commemorate the dead.

“I thought it’s some stupid April Fool’s kind of a joke when I heard the news and I am in such a state of shock that I can’t stop crying,” said Maria Przyborska, a 54-year old teacher from Warsaw who laid roses at the palace gates. “I didn’t vote for Kaczynski, but this was my president and I can’t understand how this could happen.”

The delegation was to attend an anniversary ceremony commemorating the murder of thousands of Poles killed in the spring of 1940 by Soviet forces under Josef Stalin at the Katyn forest, close to the city of Smolensk.

World Leaders Respond

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 7 hosted a meeting with Tusk in an effort to heal the two countries’ difference over the massacre, making him the first Russian leader to pay his respects to the more than 4,000 Polish officers killed in the Katyn forest, a crime denied by the Kremlin for half a century.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he called Tusk to express his “deepest condolences to the people of Poland on the tragic deaths,” according to a statement. “Today’s loss is devastating to Poland, to the United States, and to the world. President Kaczynski was a distinguished statesman who played a key role in the Solidarity movement, and he was widely admired in the United States as a leader dedicated to advancing freedom and human dignity.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also conveyed his sympathy and ordered “a thorough investigation in full and closest cooperation with the Polish side,” a statement on the Kremlin’s Web Site said.

Germany, Israel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the deaths a “political and human tragedy for Poland, for our neighbor country,” in comments broadcast by N24 television out of Berlin. “I gladly remember that Lech Kaczynski invited me to the Polish national holiday on the 11th of November 2008, that was a very special gesture also for a neighbor country like Germany; we spent many, many hours talking about Polish and European history.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said his country is “shocked by the report of the terrible tragedy that has struck Poland,” in a statement distributed by e-mail today. Israel “shares in the mourning of the Polish people and the free world.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said “the whole world will be saddened and shocked as a result of this tragic death,” according to a statement.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he was “shocked” at the “terrible” news.

‘No Divisions’

The government of the largest of the 10 former communist nations to join the European Union since 2004 is holding an emergency cabinet meeting. The country will hold a week of national mourning, Komorowski said in comments broadcast by TVP INFO.

“In the face of this tragedy we are all together; there are no divisions, no differences,” Komorowski said.

The plane clipped the tree line at about 10:50 a.m. Moscow time and broke in two as the pilot attempted a fourth landing amid heavy fog at a military airport near Smolensk, Russia, Rossiya-24 said, citing officials at the scene. Newswire RIA quoted an unnamed Russian security official as saying pilot error was a factor in the accident.

Rossiya-24 TV showed live footage of rescue workers attempting to extinguish pockets of fire among the wreckage almost two hours later at the airport, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Moscow.

“The plane was landing in bad visibility,” Andrei Yevseyenkov, press secretary of the Smolensk region governor told Rossiya-24. “Dispatchers at Severny military airport suggested that the plane land in Minsk (about 200 kilometers away) but the pilots took their own landing decision.”

Investigation

Medvedev dispatched Emergency Ministry Sergei Shoigu to the site of the crash and formed a special commission headed by Putin to investigate the cause. Tusk said he will leave Warsaw “immediately” for the crash site, where he will talk with Russian officials conducting the investigation.

The Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office is looking into whether bad weather, human error, a technical malfunction or other reasons caused the crash, according to a statement on the committee’s Web Site. A criminal case has been initiated, it said.

Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish president in exile during World War II, Janusz Kurtyka, the head of the Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates Nazi and Soviet crimes against Poles, and the Army chief of staff Franciszek Gagor were to be on the plane, according to a list of passengers posted on the government’s website.

‘Twist of Fate’

The list also includes deputy parliamentary speaker Jerzy Smajdzinski, who was the presidential candidate of the opposition Left Democratic Alliance. That means the crash killed the presidential candidates of two of Poland’s three largest parties. Kaczynski had already won the endorsement of the opposition Law and Justice party. He was to officially declare his candidacy in May.


Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who led his country’s fight against Communism, called the crash a tragedy without comparison.    “I would say that we weren’t that close politically but that is irrelevant,” Havel said today in an interview on Czech state-run television. “Even if it had been a different Polish president, to have all this occur together - Katyn and” the loss of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, “who died in a different plane crash, it’s an unbelievable twist of fate.”

The death of Polish Prime Minister Wladyslaw Sikorski at Gilbraltar in 1943 is the last time Poland lost a national leader in a plane crash.

--With assistance from Maciej Martewicz, Marta Waldoch, Monika Rozlal in Warsaw, Brad Cook, Anna Shiryaevskaya in Moscow, Douglas Lytle in Prague and Nicholas Comfort in Prague. Editors: Alan Crosby, Tasneem Brogger.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McQuaid in Warsaw at dmcquaid1@bloomberg.net Piotr Skolimowski in Warsaw at pskolimowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this Chris Kirkham at ckirkham@bloomberg.net

Source
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like

Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

10 Apr 2010, 16:11 #6

David Cameron, in a not very subtle message to everyone, praised the "patriotism" and nationalistic fervour of the deceased.

Edit: Indeed, that seems to be the general theme if other commentators doing the rounds on PM are anything to go by.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
Reply
Like

Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

10 Apr 2010, 16:27 #7

Death of central bank chief unlikely to affect policy

By Jan Cienski in Warsaw

Published: April 10 2010 14:06 | Last updated: April 10 2010 14:06

The death of Slawomir Skrzypek, the president of Poland's central bank, in a plane crash on Saturday morning that also killed the country's president and many other senior officials, is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the functioning of the bank and on the country's monetary policy.

Hours after the crash, the bank announced that the institution's new acting president will be Piotr Wiesiolek, Skrzypek's deputy. He will also take over the management of the 10-member interest-rate setting Monetary Policy Council and cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie. Mr Wiesolek, 46, has worked in banking since 1992, and took his current post in 2008. His monetary policy views are not well known.

The council is relatively evenly divided between interest rate hawks and doves, but is unlikely to make any changes to interest rates (the benchmark rate is currently 3.5 per cent) as inflation is falling and the strengthening zloty is already exerting a tightening effect.

“Fortunately the central bank is not needed to undertake any crucial decisions right now, unlike the situation a year ago,” said Ryszard Petru, chief economist for BRE Bank, a subsidiary of Germany's Commerzbank.

The bank had decided to intervene in currency markets on Friday, acting to weaken the zloty, which has appreciated sharply in recent weeks on a continuing wave of good news from Poland, which was the only EU country to avoid recession last year. However, interventions of that type are very rare and can be done by the current management.

Skrzypek, 46, was a close political ally of Lech Kaczynski, Poland's president, and took over the bank in 2007. His nomination was controversial because he had little banking experience and shared Kaczynski's scepticism about Poland's rapid entry into the eurozone.

His parliamentary confirmation hearing went very badly, and Skrzypek took a low profile at the bank, being very careful about any public comments he made. Although he remained unpopular with key members of the government of Donald Tusk, the prime minister, Skrzypek did preside over the bank during the economic crisis, when it helped to stabilise the banking system by setting up swap lines for euros and Swiss francs.

In recent days Skrzypek had been at the heart of a growing dispute with the finance ministry, after he recommended that Poland not apply to extend a $20.5bn flexible credit line from the International Monetary Fund. There had also been a conflict over government demands to transfer as much of the central bank's profit as possible to the strapped state budget.

It is unclear whether Bronislaw Komorowski, the speaker of parliament and acting president, will immediately nominate a successor to Skrzypek or wait until the outcome of presidential elections.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

Source
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
Reply
Like