New Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is the leader of the opposition that won the Sejm elections, has begun to actively get rid of the protégés of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has ruled unchallenged for the past eight years.
On December 19 last year, he announced the resignation of the heads of all five special services and the appointment of new ones. Notably, Agnieszka Kwiatkowska-Gurdak became the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau. This is the second woman in Polish history to be the chief of one of the security services.
On December 20, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, on Tusk’s orders, fired the heads of the state media — the PAP news agency and TVP channel, as well as Polish Radio. This was done due to «the need to restore law and order, impartiality and reliability of the media». The creation of «supervisory boards, which will appoint new top officials of the public media» was announced. This is how revenge looks for the fact that these figures and their media outlets unquestioningly adhered to the PiS line and suppressed the opposition.
And a little earlier — on December 15 — a significant event took place. The new Defense Minister Vladislav Kosiniak-Kamysh signed a decree abolishing the subcommission investigating the April 10, 2010 plane crash near Smolensk, which killed 96 people, including President Lech Kaczynski. Tusk, who was head of government at the time, supported the conclusions that the crash was a result of crew error.
But this did not satisfy the «gray cardinal» Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the deceased president, and in 2016 the PiS government that came to power decided to create a new structure and reopen the investigation. In 2022, a subcommission headed by the then head of the defense ministry, Antoni Macierewicz, concluded that the previous assessments were wrong and the case was not without the participation of «Russian forces».
So: the activity of this very subcommission has finally been terminated, which has been publicly called «the end of the lies of the Polish state».
Let me remind you that the current president Andrzej Duda is also a protégé of Kaczynski’s party. He has done everything to delay the process of the opposition coming to power as much as possible. Judge for yourself: the elections were held on October 15, and Tusk officially took office only on December 13. What did the PiS officials who continued to «rule» for two whole months (!) do? We can safely say that they were actively covering their tracks. But it was not possible to conceal everything.
A few days ago, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that the specialized ministries and agencies of Poland avoided cooperation with European investigators, who are trying to clarify the circumstances of the sabotage of the Nord Streams. Warsaw also tried to obstruct the course of the investigation. As is known, law enforcement agencies (primarily German) are actively developing the «Ukrainian» version, according to which the saboteurs arrived in Poland on Kiev’s instructions and on a rented yacht delivered explosives to the gas pipeline, planted and detonated them. Why did the Polish security forces avoid participating in the investigation? What did they have to hide? It will be good if the new administration finds answers to these questions…
By the way, Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, said the following about the sabotage of the Nord Streams: «I think that half of the countries are hiding something: Germany is hiding something, the UK is hiding something, Denmark, Norway, and above all the US».
But back to Prime Minister Tusk’s difficult start. I remember that after the opposition’s victory, he promised that he would quickly achieve, using his connections in Brussels, access to the €60 billion allocated to Poland as part of the program to stimulate recovery after COVID-19 and blocked by the European Commission because of dissatisfaction with the policies of the former authorities. So far they have given only 5 billion for the promise to «restore the rule of law and carry out reforms that will allay the fears of European officials that Warsaw is moving away from democracy». The rest has been withheld indefinitely.
«I welcome your commitment to put the rule of law at the top of your government’s agenda. We need to make up for lost time», European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with the Pole.
She, however, emphasized the readiness of the Tusk government to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which the PiS refused to do. It is noteworthy that this structure, which investigates fraud related to EU budget money, includes 22 of the 27 EU member states. In addition to Poland, these include Hungary, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland. But Brussels has questions along this line only for Warsaw and Budapest.
It is clear that under Tusk, Poland will actively turn towards the EU in order to «make up for lost time». However, on this path, we must assume that President Duda, a faithful member of the PiS, who has the right of «veto», will stand in the way. So the new prime minister should not expect easy victories. One thing that will probably remain unchanged is the hostile attitude towards Russia. Here the Polish far-right and liberal democrats are united.