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Right-Wing Uproar in Poland: Convictions of Ex-Ministers Kaminski and Wasik Reveal Deep Divide

(Protesters gather in support of former Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik)

Since June 2023, I have spoken about the importance of a strong mandate for the New Government in Poland, to settle the division and anger that was boiling over. Unfortunately, instead of settling Polish politics, chaos has ensued.

The Law & Justice Party (PiS) are desperate to retain some face; and thus have embarked on a scorched earth tactic - flip realities on their head, and through right-wing media outlets, at home and abroad, send them hurtling into a tailspin. 

State-controlled media broadcasters (TVP), run by politicians loyal to the party in power, that launch relentless attacks on the Government’s opposition, cannot possibly be described as impartial, public networks. Further, state-media broadcasters are the modus operandi of dictatorships and one-party states, and yet PiS are trying to argue that shutting down TVP is an act of an authoritarian regime. 

The former Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has sent an emotional appeal to the world, asking the West for help as his own media circus is being put to bed. I’m afraid that to refer to the media as impartial, you cannot have the power to control what they say. 

But I’ve already covered this, but it bears repeating as to let the lunacy really set in. 

Recently, the headlines have focused on the imprisonment of two men, Mariusz Kaminski and Maciej Wasik, who under the recent Morawiecki Government (2019-2023), and in Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s short spell as Prime Minister (2005-2007), were in charge of the Ministry of the Interior and the Central Anti-corruption Bureau (CBA). 

It was in 2015, that they first faced charges for “abuse of power” and were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. However, having been elected in 2015, President Andrzej Duda pardoned both. For years, legal experts have argued about whether the pardon was valid, and the case was overturned officially, a month before the Parliamentary election in October 2023. 

Now, the charge of abuse of power has been put forward again and ruled by a court. These charges are a lot more severe, with an investigative committee being called to examine the use, under the oversight of both men, of the Israeli spyware “Pegasus” and whether it was used on political opposition and judges. 

This is where the spectacle really begins.

President Andrzej Duda, a supposed lawyer, has decided that despite further charges and abuses of power that both Kaminski and Wasik have ruled to have committed since 2015, Duda demands that the pardon from that year still stands. It is, in my view, incredibly serious that the President, especially as he stands with the Party of “Law” & “Justice”, should have accepted the ruling as to preserve the office of the President (and also the name of the party he obeys).

However, after parading around the Sejm as some great Churchill-esque hero, with roars of applause from the Party of No Law & No No Justice”, Mariusz Kaminski and his sidekick Maciej Wasik were arrested at the Presidential Palace on January 9th, where, after being convicted, were allowed to stay by the President. 

Since then, large-scale right-wing protests and marches have erupted in Warsaw, with signs saying “Solidarity with Kaminski and Wasik”. 

To clarify, These men are not political prisoners, because when they were convicted, especially of gross abuses of political power, their mandates to govern were extinguished.

Unfortunately, on the 23rd of January, bailed out by their President, now publicly complicit in this blatant celebration of two crooks, Kaminski and Wasik have been released - having been pardoned again. On his official account prezydent_pl, Duda, Kaminski and Wasik, are applauding each other in one of the many rooms of the Palace that they have disgraced with their presence.

The drama you are seeing in Poland, is the crux of successful populism, where, having made truth-twisting, disingenuous  links between now and the deeply emotional and bitter times of the Communist regime in Poland - compiled by years of PiS propaganda pumped into TVP - many of those who remember the Communist regime are now marching, enraged, used as a tool by PiS to protect themselves from the consequences of abusing their power.

One thing is very clear, the President will do anything to stop the cronies and authoritarians in his party from being punished for their misdeeds, especially given that the buck does not stop with Kaminski and Wasik. Charges could very well be brought before other ex-ministers, such as Former Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro who’s programme of politicising the courts, led to the standoff with the European Union in late 2021.

Straight out of the Trumpian handbook, the Law & Justice Party and its puppet President will do everything to keep a grip on Polish politics. They flip reality on its head, filibuster and block proceedings in the Sejm. They might even attest they wrote the constitution at this point (it's a prop for them) And finally, all of this stirs up the crowds and launches project fear.

Image: Reuters/via CGTN

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