Poland passes controversial bill to check Russian influence – DW – 05/26/2023

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

The law would create a commission to investigate alleged Russian influence from 2007 to 2022.

Those found to have acted under Russian influence will be banned from serving in roles in which they are responsible for public funds for 10 years – effectively barring them from holding public office – as well as from positions that require security clearance.

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

“We want the Russian Effects Examination Committee law to come into effect and for the committee to be able to function,” Law and Justice party spokesman Rafal Pushnik said before the vote.

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

The opposition criticizes the political “witch hunt”.

The investigations will be led by a committee chosen by Parliament, in which the Law and Justice party has a slim majority.

Workers’ Party leader Krzysztof Brijza said the new law is “a Soviet-style idea that stems from the mentality of (the leader of Law and Justice) Jaroslav Kaczynski and trying to organize a witch-hunt against Donald Tusk and eliminate him” from Polish politics.

Tusk, who is no longer a Member of Parliament but is PO party chairwas present in the room during the vote.

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He described those who voted in favor of the law as “cowards” who “broke good parliamentary morals and basic principles of democracy, for fear of losing their power, for fear of the people, for fear of responsibility (they have to face them).” After they lost the election.”

Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk was present in the room during Friday’s votePhoto: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/picture Alliance

Tusk said the opposition had a strategy for dealing with the commission and called on Poles to join him in pro-democracy rallies on June 4, the anniversary of the partially free 1989 elections that ousted the Communists from power in Poland.

Slomir Patera, a constitution expert at Marie Sklodowska Curie University in Lublin, told AFP the legislation contains a vague definition of Russian influence and is vulnerable to abuse.

“This system violates all constitutional foundations,” he said.

zc/wd (AFP, Reuters)

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