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

Polish lawmakers on Friday passed a bill to investigate 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 during the period from 2007 to 2022.

Those who allegedly acted under Russian influence would be barred from working in roles where they are responsible for public funds for 10 years – effectively barring them from public service – as well as positions requiring security clearance.

The new law was pushed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which says the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party allowed 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 Russian Influence Review Commission to come into force and the commission to be able to function,” PiS spokesman Rafal Bochenek said ahead of the vote.

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

The opposition denounces the political “witch hunt”

The investigations would be carried out by a committee chosen by parliament, where the PiS party has a slim majority.

PO chief Krzysztof Brejza said the new law is a “Soviet-style idea born out of the mentality of (law and justice chief) Jaroslaw Kaczynski and an attempt to mount a witch hunt against Donald Tusk and eliminate him” from Polish politics.

Tusk, who is no longer a deputy but president of the PO party, was present in the hemicycle during the vote.

He called those who passed the law “cowards” who had “broken parliamentary good manners and the fundamental principles of democracy, for fear of losing their power, for fear of the people, for fear of responsibility (they should do face) after losing the election.”

Former Prime Minister Donald Tusk was present in the hemicycle during Friday’s voteImage: Czarek Sokolowski/AP/picture alliance

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

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

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

zc/wd (AFP, Reuters)

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