Episode 62

Resuming Protests & more – 28th Dec 2023

Liquidation of state television, resumed truck drivers’ protest, new military equipment, cultural park in Warsaw, money donation from Taiwan, COVID-19 fund, and much more!

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Witam from Keswick Village! This is the Rorshok Poland Update from the 28th of December twenty twenty three. A quick summary of what's going down in Poland.

Let’s kick off with a new government resolution…

On Wednesday, the 27th, the prime minister, Tusk, announced the draft law for civil partnerships that will allow same-sex couples to get legal recognition of their relationship and have state protection. The decision for the law on partnership came after the European Court of Human Rights condemned Poland for the lack of legal protection for same-sex marriages, which includes social benefits, tax benefits, and recognition of rights for both partners.

Recall that the new government wanted to liquidate state television TVP because it served the former conservative ruling party’s propaganda campaign during and before the election while it was supposed to be objective. On Wednesday, the 20th, the new government dismissed the CEO and its other executives.

At first, MPs passed a resolution calling on the new government to ensure the objectivity of state television TVP. However, President Duda said the resolution was unconstitutional. On the same line, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the Law and Justice, the former ruling party, expressed that the resolution was a coup d'etat and illegal takeover by force. Ninety MPs from the Law and Justice party started a protest in front of the TVP building. The President and the members of the Law and Justice party claimed that the only authorized institution to fire and hire new executives to state television is the National Media Council, and the government cannot act on its behalf.

Moreover, on Wednesday, the new government passed an additional state fund, worth nearly one billion dollars for the media; some of the money will also fund the raise teacher’s wages. However, president Duda announced that he will veto the fund passed by the new government.

Along the same lines about funds…

Remember that last week the new prime minister Donald Tusk convinced the EU to release the frozen COVID-19 funds. The government will receive the first payment consisting of seven billion dollars soon. On Friday, the 22nd, Katarzyna Pełczyńska, the minister for EU funds and regional policy, announced the money will be used to grant internet access to more than one million people in regions where the private internet is expensive or not available. Also, the government will build 50,000 new nurseries to help regions with insufficient childcare provision. Similarly, the money will help 115,000 households build thermal overhauls to increase energy efficiency.

The government is not only receiving the COVID-19 funds but also additional help for refugees from Ukraine…

On Wednesday, the 20th, the EU issued an 85 million dollars fund to some countries including Poland to support their hosting of Ukrainian refugees.

Similarly, on Sunday, the 27th, Taiwan announced a one million-dollar donation to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. The Alliance of Polish Metropolises and Taiwan authorities signed the contract to distribute the funds for Ukrainian refugees' needs, such as improving living conditions, educational opportunities, and support in returning to Ukraine.

Speaking of relations with Ukraine…

The truck drivers had ended their protests in Polish-Ukrainian border passages last week. However, on Wednesday, the 20th, they resumed their protest after the previous government did not address their demands. They were demanding the cancellation of privileges given to their Ukrainian counterparts, which was leading to the decreasing profit for Polish drivers. The Polskie Radio reported that there were more than 1,600 trucks blocking the Dorohusk crossing, which caused more than twelve days of waiting time for other cars.

The new liberal government had promised to resolve the issue within the first week of their rule. Yet, they haven’t been successful. Truck drivers are currently also blocking Korczowa and Hrebenne passages.

On a positive note, On Sunday, the 24th, Polish farmers who were also protesting and blocking passages to Ukraine had decided to suspend their blockade until the 2nd of January, twenty twenty four. Similarly, farmers want the government to suspend the import of cheap Ukrainian agricultural products to the country, and subsidize their products. Farmers announced that the new prime minister Donald Tusk agreed to their demands, and they will suspend the protest to see if the government keeps its promise.

Moving on to national security…

On Monday, the 27th, Paweł Bejda, Deputy Defense Minister, signed a contract with Rosomak, a military manufacturing company, to buy twelve Abrams tanks. The Polish army widely uses Rosomak vehicles, since they allow soldiers to securely exchange information through special radios. Currently, the army is purchasing new tanks to replace the post-Soviet tanks that the government donated to Ukraine.

In local news…

On Wednesday, the 20th, a hunter shot a deer called Bartek in the small town of Szklarska Poręba and the incident received backlash from residents and animal rights activists in the country. The residents had been caring for and feeding the tamed deer for years and it had become a symbol of the town for visitors. Yet on Sunday, a local resident discovered the hunter next to the wounded deer after following the sound of a gunshot.

According to the law, hunting at night is prohibited except for wild boars. The activists called for the expansion of the law to prohibit hunting deer in the country. The hunter has yet to be located.

Going ahead with cultural updates…

On Wednesday, the 20th, Warsaw city council plans to establish the cultural park in the historical core of Warsaw city center. The area includes 500 hectares of land. Renata Kaznowska, the deputy mayor of Warsaw, stated that the aim of the project is to restore the historic spirit of the old town by organizing advertising boards, the location of the restaurants, and landscaping. The decision came after the public complained about Warsaw’s city center getting messier each day with artificial elements such as illegal advertisements, signboards, and street stands of clothing shops that are against the true historic spirit of the city.

On Tuesday, the 26th, The Ministry of Finance announced that Poland will require foreign companies to use e-invoices instead of traditional paper or soft invoices. The government website stated that currently companies are free to use either of options while starting from July twenty twenty four, foreign companies will have to adapt using e-invoices.

On Friday, the 22nd, Polish novel ‘Lightbulb Thieves’ by Tomasz Różycki received the Prix Grand Continent prize. The writer states the book is a funny, surreal, and poetic story that takes us on a tour of a communist-era housing block. The Prix Grand Continent is awarded annually to a book that is suitable to attract attention from across Europe. Additionally, the writer received a 120,000-dollar monetary reward to fund the book’s translation into various languages.

On Monday, 25th, Poland celebrated Christmas, its national holiday. As a tradition, in the evening of the 24th, the family gathers for dinner called Vigilia. Carp fish is the main dish to serve along with twelve other meatless dishes that symbolize twelve apostles. People usually sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts with loved ones. On the next day, the family attends Christmas holy mass at church.

This coming weekend, on the night from December, the 31st to January, the 1st, the country celebrates New Year's Eve, called Sylwester. One of the main traditions for Sylwester is to count down seconds when the clock approaches midnight and shoot fireworks to welcome the New Year. People also like to open the doors and windows of their houses to let the new year in, and they believe that the first guest to enter the house brings good luck.

Aaand that's it for this week!

Tired of Christmas movies and jingles? Don’t want to think about the awkward upcoming dinner with the fam? We’ve got the best solution. Stream the Rorshok Poland show on your favorite listening platform.

But seriously, we wanted to thank everyone who has been listening to us, you make these updates possible. Happy New Year from the Rorshok Team!

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