Episode 75

POLAND: Investigating the PM & more – 26th Mar 2024

Investigation on the Prime Minister, released convicts, VAT on food, fight against cigarette smugglers, Russian missile in Polish air space, taxi drivers’ protest, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 26th of March twenty twenty-four. A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Let’s see what’s new in internal affairs. On Wednesday, the 20th, the parliament passed a resolution that recommended courts to investigate Mateusz Morawiecki, the former Law and Justice prime minister, on claims that he contributed to the loss of five billion dollars from the country's budget. The resolution says that Morawiecki did not submit an application to receive five billion dollars from the National Reconstruction Plan of the EU, and he did not make any changes the Union required in order to receive the money during his term in office. However, the Law and Justice party, the main opposition, responded that the government did not apply for the money because the EU wanted to replace the Law and Justice administration with today's liberal government before giving the money.

More investigations on Law and Justice politicians. On Thursday, the 21st, the government said they want to bring Adam Glapiński, the president of the Polish central bank, before the state tribunal because he collaborated with the previous ruling Law and Justice Party to help it win the election, even though he was supposed to be neutral and couldn’t support or belong to any party, as he served the government. Also, the current administration blames Glapiński for the inadequate fight against inflation, especially during the pandemic.

After the announcement, Jarosław Kaczyński, the president of the Law and Justice party, visited Glapiński to show his support and said that the government's wants to eliminate him to bring the Euro to the country because Glapiński supports the national currency over the Euro. President Andrzej Duda condemned the government and said their policies would harm the Polish economy.

Even though the government just started investigating opposition politicians, Law and Justice has already retaliated. On Thursday, the 21st, the party criticized Tusk's government for not fulfilling its 100 election promises during its first 100 days in office. Donald Tusk has so far failed to fulfill all the promises he made, such as free dormitories for students, and oil for five zlotys or one and a half dollars.

This week, the MPs from Law and Justice toured government ministries to check if they were working on those promises. Tusk responded to criticism, saying he made those promises while expecting that his Civic Platform party would be the only governing party after the election; however, it had to ally with other parties to win, and some coalition partners naturally did not agree on all of the Civic Platform promises.

In other news, the country faces threats from Russia. On Saturday, the 23rd, Prime Minister Tusk condemned the terrorist attack in Moscow, Russia. However, he told Russia not to blame Ukraine for this attack since the Islamic State group already took responsibility. Still, Russia ignored him, and increased its bomb attacks on Ukraine. In line with this, on Sunday, the 24th, a Russian missile entered Polish airspace and stayed there for forty seconds. The Polish military said they tracked the missile but the military did not shoot it down since it quickly left the airspace. Poland demanded an explanation from Russia over the breach.

Afterwards, the Polish foreign ministry asked Sergey Andreev, the Russian ambassador to Poland, to attend a meeting in the ministry and clarify the incident. However, Andreev, for the first time, rejected the request. The Russian ambassador to Poland ignoring the Polish foreign ministry request marked another stage in the worsening relations between the two countries. As a result, Russia may recall its ambassador in the near future, which would lead to a breakup in the two countries' diplomatic relations.

Speaking of Polish-Russian relations, on Monday, the 25th, the Russian website Mediazona published the decision of the Russian Ministry of Justice to ban The Open Dialogue Foundation from Russia. The Foundation is a Polish non-profit organization that fights for human rights and the rule of law in post-Soviet countries and the EU. The organization currently provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine and helps Ukrainian refugees in the EU.

Still on Russia, on Tuesday, the 19th, during his CNBC television interview, President Andrzej Duda warned Western countries that Russia may attack NATO in twenty twenty-six or twenty twenty-seven. Duda mentioned that the German intelligence service recently revealed that until twenty twenty-six–twenty twenty-seven, Russia would adopt its economy to sustain military needs and start a war against NATO. Duda asked Western countries to increase their military spending as soon as possible since, according to forecasts, there are only a few years to prepare before the Russian attack.

On the same day, Tusk announced that the government would release 20,000 convicts due to the overcrowding of prisons. Tusk said that the previous government increased the severity of punishments, even for minor offenses. The current administration is working on changing the regulations to sentence someone to imprisonment only for serious crimes. Tusk also added that the convicts the government plans to release this year didn’t assault anyone or commit any serious crime against the life of other people.

Let’s move on to the economy. Recently, the government abolished the zero tax on food, a policy the previous government applied due to high inflation. On Sunday, the 24th, the Polish Press Agency and Business Insider stated that the rise in tax will not affect consumers because big markets in the country announced a price war to attract customers. Lidl, a huge market chain, said they would offer discounts so the new taxes would not affect the final price. Biedronka, another big market chain, will also follow suit.

On that note about new policies, on Wednesday, the 20th, left-wing outlet oko press announced that the ruling coalition has decided to work together on a new law to recognize same-sex relationships, a status close to marriage. The recognition will not include same-sex marriages, but couples will have recognized rights such as the co-parenting of a child of one of the partners.

Next up, the country continues its fight against smugglers. On Tuesday, the 26th, authorities seized eight million cigarettes without stamps in Łódź. Cigarettes were going to cause a four-million-dollar loss for the State Treasury, a figure showing that unauthorized sales threaten the country with serious damage.

On Tuesday, the 26th, taxi drivers announced that they would go on strike next week in Warsaw to demand pay rises and regulations against transport applications such as Uber ahead of the local elections on the 7th of April. Taxi drivers think that transport applications reduce their revenues because they use a dynamic price list, which offers a cheaper price compared to a fixed price list in taxis.

And to close this edition, on Thursday, the 21st, the European Parliament hosted a ceremony where they named a Polish tree the twenty twenty-four Tree of the Year. Trees from all over the EU take part in a competition that aims to bring attention to climate change and the preservation of natural heritage.

This year, European citizens selected an over 300-year-old Polish tree called the Hearth of the Garden, from the arboretum in Wojsławice in Niemcza in Lower Silesia. The tree amazes people as it looks like it came out of a fantasy movie.

To check some cool pictures of the tree, follow the link in the show notes!

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