Episode 76

POLAND: Investigation & more – 2nd Apr 2024

The former Justice Minister under investigation for corruption, the morning after-pill law, the visit of Ukraine’s prime minister, suspended military training, a missing radioactive device, and much more!

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Witam from BA! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 2nd of April twenty twenty-four. A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Let's kick off with some news on politics. On Wednesday, the 27th, police searched the house of Zbigniew Ziobro, the former Minister of Justice, to investigate corruption allegations. The ruling party said that the previous Law and Justice government improperly allocated seventeen million dollars of state money to its supporters via the Justice Fund. According to the law, the government was supposed to give this money to wrongfully convicted people. Authorities detained five beneficiaries of the fund, including a priest called Michał O in the course of the investigation. The main opposition, Law and Justice, responded by saying that the recent operations on the party, including this one, are a 'witch hunt' to eliminate the party from the political scene.

Recall that last month, the parliament and the senate approved a law that allows women over fifteen to buy morning-after pills in pharmacies over the counter. However, on Friday, the 29th, Andrzej Duda vetoed the decision and said that the regulation would cause health issues in women younger than eighteen years old. Duda also added that over 30,000 parents collected signatures for the president asking to veto the law because they were concerned about their daughters' health. In response, Donald Tusk, the prime minister, said that the president lost the opportunity to side with women with his veto. On the same line, the government announced that it would adopt a cabinet decree to bypass the president and allow women to buy the pill without a doctor's prescription starting from the 1st of May.

Speaking of Tusk, on Thursday, the 28th, he met with Denys Shmyhal, his Ukrainian counterpart, in Warsaw. Addressing the media, both leaders showed their solidarity with each other. Tusk assured Ukraine that Poland would continue to provide Ukraine with unconditional support in its war against Russia. In the most significant outcome of the meeting, Poland decided to impose a 50 percent tariff on Russian and Belarusian agricultural products.

On that note about Russia, on Friday, the 29th, PM Tusk warned Europe about Russian aggression during his first interview with international media. He stated that the EU must develop its own army for a possible Russian attack. Tusk’s point of view differs from President Duda's opinion, who supports NATO's empowerment rather than the European Union’s.

Poland has difficult relations not only with Russia, but also Belarus. On Monday, the 1st the Belarusian regime and its leader Alexander Lukashenko, banned a Polish news outlet in the country. A Polish couple living in Belarus was operating znadniemna.pl. It aimed at informing Polish people in Belarus, as well as Belarusians about what was going on in Poland. The Belarusian regime said the website scatters extremist information, and warned that anyone who collaborates with the page will be punished. The authorities also tried to detain the Polish couple, who fled the country before they could reach them.

There has been discussion about whether NATO should send troops to Ukraine or not. On Thursday, the 28th, a national poll agency, or IBRiS, published a survey showing that ninety percent of Poles are against the government sending troops to Ukraine. On the contrary, citizens want the country to enhance its air defense system to protect Poland's airspace from Russia. Last week, a Russian missile violated Polish airspace for forty seconds and then left. Citizens criticized the military for not shooting down the missile when there are dozens of air defense systems belonging to NATO and Poland in the countries' reserves.

On that note, the US Congress approved selling Poland a new wave of advanced air defense systems worth 3 billion dollars.

Still in Russia, for a long time, immigrants from third-world countries used Russia and Belarus to enter Poland and the EU illegally. Poland has been saying that these countries use immigrants to weaken the country. Tusk said he does not appreciate Poland's pushback methods for immigrants, mainly border security guards who leave injured and dehydrated people to suffer without providing any medical help. He said that border security needs to use more humane methods.

There are even more obstacles for the military sector. On Tuesday, the 26th, the government suspended all military training because there had been a few accidents in a row in recent days. This week, a soldier died in an avalanche in the Tatra Mountains, while another two passed away during detonation exercises in the southern Silesia region. Earlier this month, two more soldiers died in a traffic accident. Amid the incidents, the government tasked the military with investigating the accidents and taking the necessary measures to prevent them from happening again.

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This week, society divided on the topic of mandatory homework. On Tuesday, the 2nd, United Surveys published data from their recent poll on the government canceling compulsory homework. The executive decided that, starting from the 1st of April, students aged seven to ten will no longer receive mandatory homework so they can have more free time. Students aged ten to fifteen will also have no mandatory homework According to the survey, fifty-five percent of participants said they were against the educational reform.

The support for this change mainly came from the younger parents, while older ones strictly opposed it. The former education minister of the Law and Justice government also criticized the removal of homework and said it did not meet the realities of today's labor market.

On Thursday, the 28th, authorities in Kraków announced a 1,300-dollar reward for the person who finds a missing radioactive device called a defectoscope, which detects defects such as cracks or corrosion during non-invasive testing of materials. However, an employee responsible for the device lost it during road construction works. The device shouldn’t be opened, as the radioactive material inside it can endanger people's health and safety. Authorities asked people to call an emergency hotline if they found the device. To know what it looks like, follow the link in the show notes!

Do you recall that a law was passed to tackle the issue of drunk driving? Well, the police seized 1,100 cars belonging to people who were drunk while driving.

On a sad note, on Monday, the 1st, falling trees and roofs killed five people in the strong winds that came along with the dust from the Sahara desert.

And to close this edition, Poland has some important monuments and artworks around Europe, as the country had close relations with its neighbors during its history. On Monday, the 1st, the National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad, or Polonika, announced that they will start renovating Polish heritage in Italy and France. The heritage sites include the Saint Stanislaus church in Rome, built in the 16th century, and a Champeaux Cemetery in Montmorency, near Paris, called the Pantheon of Polish Emigration. The renovation will especially focus on historical paintings on the walls of the constructions, such as the Glory of Saint Stanislaus in Heaven. The renovation aims to protect Polish heritage but also to spread the word about Polish culture among other nations.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks for joining us!

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