Wiretapping scandal provoked reshuffle in Poland

11.06.2015873

CHKKEFPW8AAml9x10 June. – Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz announced resignation of the Sejm Speaker Radoslaw Sikorski, three ministers of the Cabinet and a few deputy ministers. Forced reshuffle took place just five months before the parliamentary elections in Poland.

In addition to the Sejm Speaker, Health Minister Bartosz Arlukowicz, Tresury Minister Wlodzimierz Karpinski and Sport Minister Andrzej Biernat also quit. Besides, deputy ministers Rafal Baniak, Stanislaw Gawlowski and Tomasz Tomczykiewicz left the Government. Chief of Prime Minister’s advisers Jacek Rostowski also resigned.

The reshuffle is a result of a wiretapping scandal that broke out in 2014 with the release of audio recordings that cast a shadow over the ruling party, Civic Platform (PO). But it made a new turn when the documents related to the case were leaked on the web and published by Polish businessman, civil activist and blogger Zbigniew Stonoga.

The Prosecutor’s office is now investigating the initial scandal and the new leak. Kopacz decided not to wait until the end of the investigation and asked the officials potentially involved in the wiretapping scandal to leave. She also said she would not authorize the annual report from General Prosecutor Andrzej Seremeta if there were no intensive search for the sources in both cases.

Polish politicians reacted differently to the reshuffle. “In this situation Tusk would resist the pressure and turn everything upside down”, Witold Tumanowicz from the right-wing National Movement party wrote on Twitter. “We have a brave and responsible leader who understands the need for changes and restoring confidence. Only these actions will ensure our victory”, Polish MP Michal Szczerba said.

Parliamentary elections in autumn are an extremely important issue. According to the IBRiS, PO with its 21% is now trying to catch up the leaders – Pawel Kukiz Movement (24,2%) and the Law and Justice party (24%). In these circumstances, today’s resignations can turn to ruling party’s benefit or not. On the one hand, resignations are a preemptive strike with which the party gets rid of politicians whose reputation is questionable. On the other hand, resignations look like confession that PO-members were involved in wrongdoings.

However, it seems that the real leader of the CP, President of the European Council Donald Tusk will “put an end” to the all current government team. Announcing his resignation, Radoslaw Sikorski described Kopacz as a “vice-leader of the party”, although she heads it officially. Other candidates for the post of party leader are Radoslaw Sikorski, Tomasz Semoniak and Grzegorz Schetyna. And there is still the incumbent President, Bronislaw Komorowski, who, however, has already lost one election this year.

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WIRETAPPING SCANDAL IN POLAND

The scandal began in June 2014 when the Wprost weekly published the transcripts of illegally recorded conversations of Polish politicians. Recordings were made in Warsaw restaurants from July 2013 to June 2014. There have been three stages so far:

14-16 June – the leaked conversations between Interior Minister Bartolomej Sienkiewicz, the president of the National Bank Marek Belka, former commander of the GROM special unit Dariusz Zawadka, and others. Jacek Rostowski was mentioned.

22-23 June – the leaked conversation of Radoslaw Sikorski and Jacek Rostowski where the former criticised the Polish-American cooperation, which created a “false sense of security” for Poland.

18 May 2015 – the leaked conversation between the Minister of Regional Development Elizbeta Bienkowska and the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau Pawel Wojtunik. Politicians discussed setting the police box near the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, and also – in obscene terms – the leaders of the Polish People’s Party, particularly Jan Bury.

There is no reliable information about how many tapes exist. According to various estimates, the number may vary from a few dozens to hundreds. Donald Tusk refused to dismiss the “wiretapped” ministers as well as those members of the cabinet who were mentioned in their conversations last June. He explained this by saying that this would mean the success of criminals seeking to destabilize the Polish government.