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He also reaffirmed that he wanted to cooperate with parties that have similar programmes and ideals—such as the UW (Freedom Union) and SKL (Conservative People's Party), still currently part of the AWS (Solidarity Electoral Action).
More honest politicians
The Lustration Court has exposed two more politicians who were less than candid about their pasts. Former Prime Minister Józef Oleksy and Senator Jerzy Mokrzycki, both members of the SLD (Democratic Left Alliance), were found, on 25 and 24 October respectively, to have lied in their lustration statements.
The court determined that Oleksy had secretly worked for military intelligence between 1970 and 1978. Oleksy denied the charges, saying "truth was the loser in this very peculiarly conducted trial." Adding that the court used "very questionable" procedures in allowing evidence to be presented in the case. "I fully disagree with the ruling, and I will fight to the end for my honour and good name," he added.
Oleksy resigned his post as prime minister in 1996 after allegations, made by the right-wing interior minister, that he had actually been spying for Moscow when he was a military intelligence agent under the old regime. The allegations were dismissed after a prosecutor found there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case. Regardless, this incident put an end to Oleksy's political career. The court justified its ruling by stating that "a file on intelligence activities and Oleksy's personal file both still exist."
In the Mokrzycki case, the verdict simply reaffirmed the court's ruling of November 1999, which found that he had collaborated with the Communist-era secret services.
Finally, on the same day as the Mokrzycki verdict, the court re-opened the lustration process of Confederation for an Independent Poland leader Leszek Moczulski, who, they allege, collaborated with Poland's secret police from 1969 to 1977. Moczulski claims the documents have been doctored. And so it goes on.
The Ukrainian premier, Viktor Yushchenko, expressed renewed concern over the project by the Russian energy giant Gazprom to build a gas pipeline, the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, which will bypass Ukrainian territory. "We are confident that Russia must be interested in the existing [gas transport] system, and we have proposed strong arguments to Russia to maintain this system," he said. The pipeline has been an additional strain on Polish-Ukrainian relations, since the projected pipeline would be linked to Slovakia (and from there on to European networks), crossing through Polish territory, but bypassing Ukraine entirely.
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski responded that Poland could agree to the project, but only if Kyiv would somehow benefit economically from it as well though it didn't necessarily have to be "geographically" involved. "It can be involved in the economic sense as well, in some concept of a joint venture or a common company. I think this is a very clever compromise," he was quoted as saying.
Since the pipeline project became public knowledge earlier this year, officials in Warsaw have tried to assure Kyiv that Poland would not support any gas supply scheme that would be to the detriment of Ukraine, Poland's "strategic partner." The survival of a sovereign and independent Ukraine is generally (and genuinely) believed to be a guarantee against Poland falling back into the Russian sphere of influence. The power of this conviction in guiding foreign policy should not be underestimated.
Fighting for political survival on the right
Marian Krzaklewski, leader of the ruling AWS, proposed a deal—to rotate leadership between the centre-right coalition factions—in an attempt to stop the right-wing alliance from falling apart. Kraklewski was called upon to resign after his embarrassing showing in the presidential polls a few weeks ago. "A unified party..., which could gain wide public support, is AWS's future," he stated. "To implement that idea, I am ready to support a change in the AWS's leadership model and allow leaders of its key factions to temporarily hold power in turns."
The three factions that initially called for the leader's removal responded the following day by suspending all cooperation with the AWS's leadership. They rejected the deal: "We say no to a single party—a single party which would be based on professional politicians diluted in an ocean of union members," said Jan Maria Rokita, head of the SKL. The reference is to the fact that Kraklewski's party (AWS) is the political arm of the still-powerful Solidarność trade union.
In response, Krzaklewski said that he would return to Solidarność and take away the right of the AWS coalition to use the union logo. The coalition is going to have to figure a way out of their dilemma soon if they want to avoid outright embarrassment in next September's parliamentary elections. A current CBOS poll showed the AWS's support hovering at 15 per cent, against 38 per cent support for the opposition SLD coalition. It also doesn't bode well for the minority government's chances at pushing through the crucial next budget.
More crime stories
The heyday of the "Wild East," immediately after the political changes in 1989, witnessed a number of highly unsavoury banking-financial scandals. This week, a Warsaw court found Bogusław Bagsik, who established the company Art-B, guilty on five counts of fraud and sentenced him to nine years in prison. Bagsik was found guilty of taking the banking system for some PLZ 424 million (USD 94 million). Charges included defrauding a bank, bribing bank clerks and carrying out a variety of financial shenanigans—mainly through Art-B.
PAP also reported that the ruling also banned him from holding any post at a trading company for five years—a little redundant, it would seem, since one might think that a prison sentence for fraud might not look so great on a CV. He was ordered to pay court costs and a fine of PLZ 5000—shouldn't be much of a hardship since none of the aforementioned money was ever actually recovered. Bagsik continued to plead his innocence after the verdict, saying he acted within the law.
In 1989, Bagsik and Andrzej Gąsiorowski, created the Art-B company and miraculously increased its capital from some USD 100 to USD 300 million in a year. The graft lay in the transfer of large amounts between several different bank accounts to earn interest in several places at once—termed an "oscillator" scheme. The partners fled to Israel in 1991 after the scandal blew and Bagsik was finally arrested in 1994 in Switzerland and extradited to Poland.
Joanna Rohozińska, 28 October 2000
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Today's updated headlines from Poland