Today’s Gazeta Wyborcza runs an interesting article written by Kacper Sulowski. It reads: “They take journalists out, they do the postmen job. And how heroically they defend the chairman’s mailbox! Here is our Police”. It enumerates the number of incidents in recent weeks when the police – nation’s trusted force (75%) as of 2019 – turns political.
Case 1: Last weekend protest in Warsaw: like in many places around the world people come out to demonstrate against the economic situation. Among them the Civic Platform (PO) Senator Jan Bury. Senator Bury intervenes in defence of a protester, when he himself is taken by the police. He is able to identify himself as a Senator, hence holding immunity. Shrug. The Senator is arrested and the police lies about it: “he came to the police car voluntarily“.
Case 2: Where is the police? Everywhere where it is needed, obviously. But why policemen are always in front of the house of Mr Jarosław Kaczyński, the chairman of Law and Justice (PiS)? Does he need protection? He is the only party leader in the country defended by the police. He is a regular MP, no state position holder at the moment. Well, a former PM. The police is there because the true leader of the country needs protection. Rules aside, the will of one man matters and a part of the police becomes the PiS political police.
Mr Sulowski reports, “when the journalists of the satirical portal Wolne-media.pl wanted to check if there was a letterbox on the property of the PiS chairman, they were immediately followed by four officers”. A few days later a journalist wants to post something in the letterbox. The letterbox is defended by another officer. Shrug.
The house of Mr Jarosław Kaczyński is a hot destination these days. One protest a GW photo reporter is working reporting on it, and he is charged with “violation of the no movement rule of the Covid19 lockdown”. Shrug.
Case 3: Gazeta Wyborcza journalists and photo reporters are in no luck. During the protest when Senator Bury is arrested a GW journalist is arrested, too. He is merely taking photos of the protesters, and his press accreditation does not defend him. Shrug. He is released in a town 25 km away from Warsaw after the GW bosses intervene with the Police HQ. The officers offer the journalist a lift back home, but as Mr Sulowski notices, “other arrestees were not offered lifts”. Human rights? Independence of journalists? Shrug.
Case 4: On 10 April, in the middle of the pandemic, was 10th anniversary of the Smolensk Tragedy, when 96 people lost their lives. Among them the President of the Republic Lech Kaczyński, identical twin brother of Jarosław Kaczyński. Clearly a major personal loss for Mr Kaczyński. Still, during the lockdown the cemeteries were closed, too. People lost their close ones and could not bury them. My uncle died in this period (April 2020), too. My father – his brother – was devastated he could not attend the funeral.
Jarosław Kaczyński was allowed into the cemetery to pay respects to his mother, his late brother and his late sister-in-law, who perished in the same tragedy 10 years before. Double standards? Shrug.
Case 5: A few days after one anti-governmental protest the policemen are visiting homes of the protesting activists delivering messages. A postman dressed up as a policeman? And what’s the delivery? Tickets for illegal protest! About 1250 Euro per ticket. Ouch.
The arrogance of power is omnipresent. Even the right wing journalists, commentators, artists are moving away from the ruling party. The latest case is Kazik. Well, he was never in the PiS camp, really. He is a rebellious artist critical of the entire political class. In the earlier days of the PiS rule Kazik used to say he sees no big difference between the PiS and the PO. Critical as he was, he was also able to say he’d chose (politically) Jarosław Kaczyński over a fellow rock-man-turned-politician Paweł Kukiz.
In 2020 Kazik hits PiS where it hurts: in his latest song “Your pain is better than mine” he sings about the PiS chairman April cemetery visit. The song wins a popularity show on the public radio “Trójka” and the fact is censored there (it is a state/PiS-controlled radio station)… Then it hits the waves big time: by now 6.6 million times the song is viewed on YT:
Poland is in the middle of the no-campaign. The presidential elections where supposed to take place on 10 May. They did not. New elections have not been announced yet. Once they are… Before this happens, the campaign is in full swing: the Opposition has a new frontrunner candidate, there are new corruption scandals involving the PM and the (popular) health minister’s brother. And more. Wait, more? Ah yes, the Covid19 economic fallout.
Will the PiS rule fall with Covid19, its mismanagement of the situation and its arrogance of power? Who knows. It may last and last and last, or end like the USSR: in a blink of an eye.
But for now we know that for the first time since the USSR days we have political police in the country.