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Polish president approves commission for investigating ‘Russian influence’

by Martin Fornusek May 30, 2023 3:00 PM 2 min read
Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a joint press conference with Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen on April 14, 2023 in Vienna, Austria. (Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
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Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed the act on the creation of a state commission for investigating Russian influence in the country, the Polish media reported on May 29.

Critics at home and abroad worry that the conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) will misuse it as a tool against political opposition, which PiS denies.

The Act on the State Commission for the Investigation of Russian Influence on Poland's Internal Security in 2007-2022 was adopted by Poland’s parliament, the Sejm, on May 26.

Before coming into effect, the bill requires the president’s signature.

Upon signing, Duda said he will also refer the law to the Constitutional Court to address any issues that raise doubt.

The nine-member commission, appointed and dismissed by the Sejm, will be able to deprive suspects of access to classified information and prohibit them from holding government positions responsible for the budget for ten years, effectively preventing them from running for public office.

The liberal opposition party Civic Platform (PO) criticized the plan, saying it will be used to prevent PO’s leader Donald Tusk from running in the Polish parliamentary election this fall.

Politicians from the ruling PiS party accuse PO of allowing Poland to be unduly influenced by Russia and becoming too dependent on its energy imports during the liberal party’s tenure from 2007 until 2015.

The law also attracted criticism from U.S. officials.

"The U.S. government shares concerns about laws that may ostensibly reduce voters' ability to vote for those they want to vote for, outside of a clearly defined process in an independent court," the U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski told the public broadcaster TVN24.

Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk, in office for PiS, denied that the commission would be used for internal political struggle.

“The commission is not at all meant to interfere in the elections or restrict citizens’ choices. It is about examining (Russian) influence in Poland, which must be exposed,” Mularczyk said.

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