Commission on Russian influence. ‘This Act looks like it was written in the Kremlin’
PiS is trying to force through an Act appointing a commission ‘To investigate Russian influence’ in the Sejm.
by Paweł Wroński
‘This bill looks like it was written in the Kremlin,’ said Marcin Kierwiński, MP (Civic Coalition – KO).
‘A “red alert” also flared up in the 1940s, when a commission was appointed to investigate communist influence,’ said MP Paweł Rychlik (Law and Justice Party – PiS), referring to the McCarthy commission.
Commission ‘To investigate Russian influence’. Third time lucky
PiS is trying to force through an Act appointing a commission ‘To investigate Russian influence’ in the Sejm for the third time. It failed to find support twice in the administration commission. It succeeded after replacing its members. The Sejm legislator drew attention – point by point – to the unconstitutional passages for three hours during the session on 8 March.
The Commission is formally not to be a parliamentary commission, but an administrative commission, which – having extensive powers – is to investigate Russian influence in the administration and finally issue rulings, for example banning people from holding public office for 10 years. The commission is to consist of nine people appointed by the parliamentary majority, with the prime minister appointing the chairman.
The whole of the opposition opposes this. Even Krzysztof Bosak of the Confederation party said this is a legislative act that ridicules Poland and begs questions about what has been going on for eight years, since it is only now that PiS has noticed Russian influence.
Jacek Protasiewicz MP (Polish Peasants’ Party – PSL) said this was, in a nutshell, an extraordinary tribunal in which the commission members were investigators, prosecutors and judges. He also pointed out that they would go unpunished, because a provision of the Act releases them of any guilt for their actions taken in this membership.
Paweł Hreniak, MP, who is being groomed as its chairman, stated that it is true that the Sejm’s legislators, as well as other institutions, have drawn attention to passages that are unconstitutional, but what is and what is not unconstitutional in Poland is determined by the Constitutional Tribunal, and only the Constitutional Tribunal can speak up on this matter. The MP left no illusions as to the nature of the commission, shouting at the opposition from the rostrum: ‘Do you think Poles have a short memory? Why did you write off 1,200 million dollars for Gazprom in 2010, why did you approve a deal making Poland dependent on Russian gas supplies until 2037, why did you not block Nord Stream but Baltic Pipe was blocked, why did you want to sell Mažeikiai to the Russians and why did you want to sell Lotos!’.
‘But it was you who sold Lotos to the Russians,’ shouted one of the MPs from the floor.
Alsom Piotr Kaleta,MP, said that – in the light of the aggression against Ukraine – Poland is obliged to explain some of the actions of its predecessors, without noticing that, formally, the commission is supposed to deal with the period from 2007 to 2022, namely also a period covering the times of the PiS government.
‘The commission is implementing Jarosław Kaczyński’s dreams’.
Marcin Kierwiński, representing KO, advised the PiS MPs to form a commission for themselves at ul. Nowogrodzka and not to bother the Sejm with it. In his opinion, the committee is implementing Jarosław Kaczyński’s dreams, who would like to specify who is good and who is bad, and the commission is to provide TVP with banners of horror (the hearings are to be broadcast by TVP). And Wiesław Szepanski, MP, pointed out that the Act lists, among other things, media and journalists, and asked whether journalists will now have to confess before the commission, for example why they negatively assessed the attitudes of the Border Guards during the migrant crisis and whether this was influenced by Russia.
None of the speakers were able to answer the questions posed by the Poland 2050 MP, Tomasz Zimoch, who pointed out that the commission has the power to take away rights from a citizen which only a court can take away.
The Civic Coalition filed a motion to reject the bill in whole. The vote will almost certainly be held in the voting block on Thursday.
‘Poles have a right to know the truth. I believe the Polish people will finally hear the answers provided by the commission. It is naive to think that there were and are no Russian agents in Poland. We want to be a strong state,’ said MP Hreniak. And he called on opposition MPs who – despite presenting what he believes to be ‘preposterous theses’ – to become a part of this commission and ‘try to justify them’.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz
The article was published in Polish in Gazeta Wyborcza, 12 April 2023.