Poland passes controversial bill to explore Russian influence – DW – 5/26/2023

Polish lawmakers on Friday passed a bill to examine Russian influence in the country, which the opposition says is a targeted attempt to influence next year’s election.

The law will establish a commission to investigate alleged Russian influence in the period from 2007 to 2022.

Those found to have acted under Russian influence would not be allowed to work for 10 years in positions where they are responsible for public funds – effectively excluding them from public office – as well as positions requiring security clearance.

The new law was pushed by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), which claims the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party caused Poland to become dangerously dependent on Russian fossil fuels when its former leader Donald Tusk was prime minister from 2007 to 2014. .

“We want the law on the Commission for Investigating Russian Influences to come into effect and for the Commission to be able to work,” said PiS spokesman Rafal Bochenek ahead of the vote.

“If Mr. Donald Tusk has something on his conscience… he should be scared.”

Opposition denounces political ‘witch hunt’

The investigations would be led by a committee elected by parliament, in which the PiS party has a narrow majority.

PO leader Krzysztof Brejza said the new law is a “Soviet-like idea that stems from the mentality of (Law and Justice) Jaroslaw Kaczynski and an attempt to organize a witch hunt against Donald Tusk and eliminate him from Polish politics” .

Tusk, who is no longer a member of parliament but chairman of the PO party, was present at the vote in the chamber.

He called those who voted for the law “cowards” who had “violated good parliamentary manners and the fundamental principles of democracy, for fear of losing power, for fear of the people, for fear of accountability (they would have to face see)” after they lose the election.”

Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk was present at the vote in the hall on FridayImage: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/photo alliance

Tusk said the opposition has a strategy for dealing with the committee and called on Poles to join him in pro-democracy marches on June 4, the anniversary of partially free elections in 1989 that led to the ouster of the communists from power in Poland.

Slawomir Patyra, a constitution expert at Marie Sklodowska-Curie University in Lublin, told AFP news agency the legislation has a vague definition of Russian influence that is open to abuse.

“This regulation violates all constitutional bases,” he said.

zc/wd (AFP, Reuters)

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