From Poland With Love – May

 

PART I: COVID-19 IN POLAND

 

Phase 4: (More) Restrictions Lifted

In June Poland will enter the 4th stage of removing the Covid-19 restrictions.

Measures to be applied in Poland from May 30:

  • Wearing face masks or any other garment to cover your nose and mouth outdoors is no longer mandatory
  • The use of face masks continues to be mandatory in public transportation, shops, cinemas, theaters, government offices, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and churches
  • The restrictions on the maximum number of people in shops, restaurants, post offices, and churches are removed, but a distance of at least two meters must be maintained between each person
  • Open-air meetings (including weddings) of up to 150 people can be held, but it is necessary to wear face masks and maintain a distance of at least two meters between each person
  • Concerts can be held outdoors up to 150 people, but it is necessary to wear face masks and maintain a distance of at least two meters between each person
  • Hotels can reopen their restaurants and bars

Measures to be applied in Poland from June 6:

  • Cinemas, theaters, operas, ballet, and circuses will reopen, but the decision to open them is up to the owners. Audience capacity is limited to 50 percent and it will be compulsory to wear a face mask
  • Gyms, pools, game rooms, and amusement parks will reopen
  • Hotels can open their pools and gyms
  • Saunas, massage and tattoo rooms will also be open again
  • It will again be possible to organize fairs, exhibitions, and conferences
  • It will be possible to organize weddings of up to 150 guests. Wedding guests do not have to wear face masks

Additional remarks to consider:

  • Discos and night clubs still remain closed
  • At offices, it will not be necessary to cover the mouth and nose if the employer provides measures to maintain an adequate distance between the working spaces of the employees and if sanitary requirements are met
  • No need to have masks in bars and restaurants when sitting at the

Many commentators stress that still the government has given no reasons for such liberalization of anti-epidemic measures. They are fully arbitrary and dictated rather by economic needs than by doctors. The decision was harshly criticized i.a. by Professor Krzysztof Simon from the Wrocław Specialist Hospital of Infectious Diseases, one of the top Polish epidemiologist. “Most of Poland shows a declining trend of new cases,” health minister Łukasz Szumowski said, but data does not confirms that. Poland still notes 300-400 new cases per day, more than most of other EU states. So far, over 20.000 people have become infected and more than 1.000 have died.

Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki likes to underline that: “We have controlled the pandemic much more efficiently than the world’s richest countries.”  He said Poland had not had to take “such dramatic choices” as Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, Belgium or Germany. “Today it needs to be underscored with full force – the data most clearly prove that we have got on top of this disease, coronavirus pandemic, in a much more effective way than wealthier countries, the richest countries in the world, the countries of Western Europe,” Morawiecki continued. “Twenty-seven deaths per million inhabitants, in comparison with other countries, for example Belgium, it is 30 times lower,” he said.

 

Polish Wuhan?

In May, the industrial region of Upper Silesia became the epicenter of the epidemic in Poland. So far, over 3.600 Polish miners have been tested positive for the Covid-19, with results of a large-scale testing still coming in. Miners now account for half of the total corona-cases in the region. Mining relies on physical work in tight, closed-off spaces, making them most vulnerable to infections.

At the moment, work has stopped at just three of the 30 mines in Upper Silesia. “A mine isn’t a shop. If you close it, you can’t open it again,” a miner from Rybnik told the economic web outlet money.pl. “If the mine lies fallow for 3-4 days, fire can break out, and all our work will have been for nothing. You have to keep digging and pumping water out in the mine, at least a little bit. There mustn’t be a complete break,” he added.

Media took to calling Upper Silesia the “Polish Wuhan” because government officials reportedly wanted to seal off the entire region as Chinese authorities had with the city, where the pandemic began. Government officials now deny having had any intention to do so. Nevertheless, regional politicians, activists and artists have protested against the reported plans to isolate the region and against discrimination and hate speech against the Silesians.

 

Younger people more affected

A team of Polish scientists presented an epidemiological analysis of the first phase of the Covid-19 epidemic in Poland. As it turns out, more cases among young people (20-29 years) have been confirmed in Poland than in Italy. According to available data on the age of those infected, a clearly higher incidence of infection was observed in three age groups: 20-29 years (4 per 100.000), 40-49 years (4,1 per 100.000) and 50-59 years (4,3 out of 100.000 people).

According to one interpretation, this may be due to a different demographic structure, but also due to the fact that during the winter break many young people went to northern Italy.

 

EU Support for Polish Economy

The European Commission has approved a Polish subsidized loan scheme to support large enterprises in the context of the epidemic outbreak. The measure was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on March 19th, as amended on April 3rd and May 8th 2020. The scheme is part of a wider Polish support programme, the so-called “Financial Shield for Large Enterprises.”

Executive-Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The EUR 2,2 billion Polish subsidized loan scheme will enable Poland to further support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The measure will help businesses cover their immediate liquidity needs and continue their activities, start investment and maintain employment during and after the outbreak. We are working in close contact and cooperation with Poland, as with all Member States, to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”

 

Covid-19… and Apples

During the coronavirus pandemic, apple prices in Poland have increased by almost 94%. In the period from January to March, Polish apple exports to Belarus and Egypt fell significantly, but those to EU countries increased.

The share of apples in Poland’s total fruit production is 80%. Poland is the third largest apple producer in the world and the first in Europe. In 2019, Poland’s apple harvest was reduced by a third compared to 2018. Consequently, as of January 1, 2020, the apple stocks were 25% smaller than a year earlier.

 

 

PART II: BEYOND COVID-19

 

Elections Update

Gamechanger

Two days before the elections planned for May 10, the National Electoral Commission (PKW) announced the elections not to be held. “The National Electoral Commission informs voters, electoral committees, candidates and electoral and local administrations that the vote on May 10, 2020 will not be able to take place,” it said in a statement. Although the Sejm adopted the law on mail-in voting and president Duda signed the act, it was too late for the administration of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) to prepare everything. For the first time in the post-1989 period, elections in Poland were canceled. Illegally.

Deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told radio RMF FM that the earliest possible date would be June. According to the opposition, it is Sasin who bares political responsibility for canceling the elections. Sasin is a minister of state assets and was given the task to organize the postal voting. His ministry together with the Polish Post and the Polish Security Printing Works spent over PLN 70 million (ca. EUR 15 million) on the elections that never happened, including on (illegal) printing ballots which was not approved by the National Electoral Commission.

On Monday, May 11, the PKW officially confirmed that the presidential elections in Poland did not take place. The Commission claimed that voters were not able to vote for candidates in the elections scheduled for May 10. According to the PKW, the Speaker of the Sejm was supposed to call new elections within two weeks. However, the speaker was not able to do that immediately because the prime minister did not publish the PKW’s statement in the official journal for three weeks. It has been commented that PiS had used this trick to keep the new campaign as short as possible, limiting chances of any new potential opposition candidates to register for the elections and to mobilize their voters. This is especially important in light of the requirement of collecting 100.000 signatures (in time of self-isolation) to stand in the elections – something that only new candidates will have to do…

Eventually, on June 3, the Speaker of the Sejm Elżbieta Witek announced that Poles would go to polling stations on June 28.

All these inconveniences and ill will were in reality aimed at one political block, the Civic Coalition. The Coalition’s original presidential candidate Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska quitted the run after she saw a significant drop of support in polls connected to the fact that she had been calling to boycott the illegal and dangerous May elections (read more in the previous issue). “I know I have to shoulder the responsibility for what happened. The drop of support happened because the Poles weren’t sure if I was running or not. I mainly cared for their health, safety and to keep Poland a democratic and European country,” she said. On the same day, she was replaced by another candidate – Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw.

Trzaskowski offered a short speech to launch his campaign:  “I stand before you as a candidate who takes on the responsibility of fighting for democracy. Thanks to the opposition, the local authorities, the Senate and Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, we will now all have a chance to participate in the presidential election. One, which will be secret, universal, democratic. It will not be easy, and they will relentlessly attack us. But we will win this election, because there are more people of good will, there are more of us who can no longer tolerate the constant breaking of the law and of our constitution.”

Adam Szłapka, the leader of Nowoczesna, which together with Civic Platform (PO) and some smaller groupings form the Civic Coalition, stressed that the broad opposition block remains a good project. He thanked Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska for siding with values, and for her “stubbornness and steadfast attitude” which, in Civic Coalition’s view, stopped Jarosław Kaczyński from going through with his plan to organise the elections on May 10th at all cost.

Rafał Trzaskowski has been both, an MEP and MP, as well as a government minister in the Tusk´s and Kopacz´s governments. He stood for mayor of Warsaw in 2018 and won impressively in the first round of voting. His public speaking and media performance was sure-footed. He obtained a PhD in political science from Warsaw University in 2004 with a dissertation on the EU decision-making system.

According to many commentators, he represents the progressive, left wing of his party. And he became a direct competitor of Szymon Hołownia, an independent candidate, former TV celebrity, who grew significantly in recent polls catching some of the confused Kidawa-Błońska’s voters. During the campaign, Hołownia shifted from being a moderate conservative to the center-left trying to represent liberal voters from big cities. But Trzaskowski is just a more natural choice for them, since he has been fighting for the progressive agenda in Warsaw against PiS. Also, with Trzaskowski and his record, the Left’s candidate Robert Biedroń lost his “I’m the only progressive candidate” label and most of his voters.

Trzaskowski has quickly emerged as the main challenger to the conservative incumbent, Andrzej Duda. He has injected real competition into the race that Duda had seemed certain to win. While April opinion polls handed Duda over 50% voter support for a comfortable first-round win, he scored below 40% support in two separate surveys published at the end of May.

 

Politics

Not a Consolidated Democracy Anymore

Poland has again fallen in the annual index of democracy compiled by Freedom House. As a result, Poland is no longer ranked in the highest category of “consolidated democracy”, according to the report’s methodology. Instead, it is classified as a “semi-consolidated democracy”.

With respect to the recent key developments in Poland the Freedom House points out:

  • Concerns by the OSCE and others that a number of factors may have negatively impacted the fairness of the 2019 parliamentary elections, including the ruling party’s use of public media to influence voters.
  • Further infringement proceedings against Poland by the European Commission and a series of rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against PiS’s judicial reforms.
  • An intense anti-LGBT+ campaign led by the ruling party and the church.

“Among the region’s waning democracies, Poland continues to stand out for the systematic, targeted, and aggressive nature of the government’s attacks on judicial independence. Since it took power in 2015, PiS has overseen an unprecedented offensive against the very idea that laws and courts can, or should, limit executive action. PiS has not just accused judges of ideological bias and appointed loyal allies to available positions – steps that might be problematic but are not unheard of in democracies during periods of political polarization. The party has gone much further than that. It has violated Poland’s constitution, passed laws that permanently hamper the impartial functioning of the courts, rigged the appointment process for judges, created a mechanism to reopen final court rulings, set up a partisan disciplinary regime for the judiciary, and finally, in 2019, it started punishing individual judges who were critical of these steps,” says Freedom House, adding that “if Poland continues on this course, it will join hybrid regimes and autocracies that routinely mete out politicized justice.”

Poland therefore becomes only the second EU member state included in the report to lose its full democratic status. The other, Hungary, lost its “consolidated democracy” rating five years ago, and has now fallen far enough to no longer be classified as a democracy at all.

Founded in October 1941 and headquartered in Washington DC, Freedom House is a US-based, US government-funded non-profit NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

 

Read full review on Poland: https://freedomhouse.org/country/poland/freedom-world/2020

 

Sharp Shadow of the Fog

The so-called #Hot16Challenge2 encourages people to come up with an original 16-verse rap, share it online and nominate others for the same task⁠, as well as to donate to a fundraiser supporting hospitals in Poland. It was initiated by rapper Solar who was inspired by a US-born purely musical challenge from a few years ago. Among those he challenged was a teenage rapper Mata, who last year provoked a public debate with a song about shocking behavior of privileged youth in Warsaw elite high schools. The challenge became viral when Mata nominated his father, a well-known law professor and firm critic of the PiS judicial reform. Professor Matczak rapped about defending the rule of law, calling “Jarek” (Jarosław Kaczyński) to stop violating the Constitution, with his son standing behind him in a suit.

Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar also accepted the challenge. As well as President Andrzej Duda, whose performance was especially… weird. Not only because he read his lines from a piece of paper but also because the lyrics were not understandable for general audience. He repeatedly sings “They don’t ask your name, they’re fighting with the sharp shadow of the fog.” President Duda refused to explain the meaning of his song and became an internet meme. Nevertheless, his video on YouTube hit some 2 millions views.

But this was not the worst what happened during this challenge, on its political side. The ultra-conservative libertarian leader Janusz Korwin Mikke (former MEP, currently MP of the Confederation) recorded a video featuring him holding a gun in one hand and a machete in the other while launching a lyrical tirade against socialism, including suggestions of “hanging socialists” and “cutting their balls off or worse”.

However, not only politicians joined the viral action. To be honest, Polish people cared more about celebrities’ performances, including the hippest ones like Dawid Podsiadło or Polish divas, like Beata Kozidrak or Kayah.

What really matters is that almost PLN 3,5 millions (ca. 800.000 euros) and over 90.000 donations were collected.

 

Justice

New Chief Justice

After turbulent deliberations, Poland’s Supreme Court judges selected five candidates for a new court president, a crucial post in the continuing struggle over the shape of the country’s judiciary. The process was firstly led by Kamil Zaradkiewicz, acting president of the court appointed by the President Andrzej Duda. However, he was not able to bring the procedure to an end and resigned. Later Andrzej Duda appointed Aleksander Stępkowski to this position. Stępkowski is a founder of the ultra-conservative Ordo Iuris organization that actively fights against, among others, LGBTQ or abortion rights.

The process highlighted conflict between so-called “old” judges, appointed before extensive judicial reforms introduced by PiS, and “new” judges, appointed by the political committee established by PiS.

The five selected candidates were Włodzimierz Wróbel, the only “old” judge put forward and the candidate who received by far the largest number of votes, as well as four “new” judges: Małgorzata Manowska, Tomasz Demendecki, Leszek Bosek and Joanna Misztal-Konecka. Only Wróbel got over 50% of the votes.

Not surprisingly, president Duda picked Małgorzata Manowska for the job. This decision has sparked controversy as Manowska worked as deputy justice minister under minister Zbigniew Ziobro, main architect of the post-2015 judicial changes in Poland. She was also appointed to the Supreme Court by the political committee composed by PiS nominees. Her connections to PiS made her an obvious choice and her appointment is very bad news for the independence of the Polish judiciary.

“I will do my best to make sure the Supreme Court remains the backbone of judicial independence and freedom of courts,” the newly appointed Chief Justice said. She also expressed her belief that this goal could be fully achieved thanks hard work and dedication of the whole “Supreme Court team”. “I’m very glad that I have a chance to dedicate my long-term experience as a judge and an academic to serving the Supreme Court and its members,” she added.

Małgorzata Manowska has been a Supreme Court Justice since October 2018, when she has joined the Civic Chamber. Before, she had worked for several years at the Court of Appeals in Warsaw. In 2007, she had a short stint as deputy minister of justice. Since 2016, she has also headed the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution in Kraków.

 

Society

The Most Homophobic Country in the EU

After three years of occupying the penultimate spot in terms of LGBTI+ equality and rights, Poland’s rank has plummeted to the very bottom in the EU, according to the latest ILGA-Europe index, with a score of miserable 16%.

ILGA-Europe noted “hateful rhetoric from the government and the church” against LGBT people, as well as violence against equality marches. A pride parade in Białystok was “brutally attacked” by extremists throwing smoke bombs and bottles, while in Lublin two protesters brought a home-made explosive device. Moreover, Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the PiS-camp, declared that Poland must “defend children and normal families” from the “imported LGBT movement”, which “threatens our identity, our nation, its continued existence, and therefore the Polish state”. The Archbishop of Kraków, Marek Jędraszewski, called “LGBT ideology” a “rainbow plague” and likened it to Bolshevism and Nazism. Many local authorities have declared themselves “free from LGBT ideology”. In December, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning discrimination against LGBT people in Poland. And so on, and so forth…

On the positive note, ILGA-Europe pointed out at a record 24 pride marches in Poland last year and the fact that courts overturned attempts to ban marches in a number of cities. In order for Poland to improve the situation for LGBT people, ILGA-Europe recommends that it passes legislation granting recognition and rights to same-sex couples, that it expands hate crime laws to include those motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity, and that it ensures LGBT groups and activists have freedom of assembly and are not at risk.

This year’s edition of the ranking highlights Europe’s continuing East-West divide over LGBT+ rights. “Countries like Hungary, Poland and Turkey have been in the spotlight because of their policies targeting LGBTI communities prior to the pandemic,” says Darienne Flemington, co-chair of the ILGA-Europe Executive Board. “The proposed ban of legal gender recognition in Hungary, proposed laws to ban abortion and sex education in Poland, scapegoating of LGBTI people as the source of the coronavirus by Turkey’s political leaders – these are all alarming signals of how governments with strong authoritarian tendencies are emboldened by the crisis to further limit the rights of vulnerable groups and minorities. If there was ever a time for European governments and institutions to stand firm on the rule of law and human rights, it is now.”

Since 2009, ILGA-Europe has compiled an annual Rainbow Map ranking of 49 countries in Europe based on each country’s commitment to LGBTI+ equality and rights. In the ranking, each country is assigned a percentage point based on its standing in six key areas: equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crime and hate speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, civil society space and asylum.

Read about Polish husbands giving out masks in “LGBT-Free zones”: https://www.thegayuk.com/husbands-give-out-rainbow-masks-in-polands-notorious-lgbt-free-zones/

 

Culture

Your Pain is Better than Mine

The Trójka (The Three or Polish Radio 3) is a cult Polish radio station created 60 years ago and loved by its committed fans for the music it plays, ranging from pop, alternative rock to jazz. The Trójka Chart has been the most well known chart show in Poland. It has been run by Marek Niedźwiedzki for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, Trójka is a state-owned radio and PiS has been influencing its line, including music it broadcasts. In recent years, the station has been thus losing its DJs, hosts, and listeners.

In May, something unexpected happened. A song “Twój ból jest lepszy niż mój” (“Your pain is better than mine”) by Kazik was announced as the number one single. Kazik is a veteran musician, the front man of rock band Kult, and his song complains about the tenth anniversary of the Smoleńsk disaster on April 10 this year, when a number of PiS politicians were criticized for their apparent failure to observe restrictions on public gatherings while attending the memorial. The song doesn’t mention Jarosław Kaczyński by name, but is pretty clear that it is targeting him.

Shortly after the chart show was broadcast, internet links and news about the winning song were removed from the website of the Polish Radio. The chart was manipulated and censored. The director of the station, Tomasz Kowalczewski, gave two explanations for the decision to remove references to the chart over the weekend. He said that the rules had been broken by adding a song from outside the list, and that the presenter had manipulated the chart to move Kazik’s song from fourth to first place. But a journalist on the chart show, Bartosz Gil, explained what really happened and presented a text from his superior asking the station’s music director “to do something with Kazik”. The censorship in its pure form.

After 35 years, Marek Niedźwiecki resigned from heading the station in protest. Many others followed. Composer Zbigniew Preisner announced Niedźwiedzki’s decision, adding: “Our Radio Three no longer exists. We cannot allow ourselves to be enslaved by this Bolshevik politics, we must defend our freedom.” Many Polish singers announced they don’t want their songs to played in Trójka anymore.

The opposition blamed PiS for creating an atmosphere in which state-owned media are under pressure of the politicians, and journalists feel obliged to censor and self-censor their content. Even some government ministers and other senior PiS figures joined the criticism of Polish Radio’s decision. For example, deputy prime minister and minister of culture Piotr Gliński wrote that “at times some artists write rubbish. Even shocking. But even more shocking is taking down a song for ‘wrongmindedness’. It must be some kind of provocation”. On the other hand, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki complained on his Facebook page that there were more important things to talk about, such as coronavirus and the centenary of the birth of late Pope John Paul II…

Watch the controversial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9LzNtpjhV0

 

The Oldest Time Capsule in Europe

The oldest time capsule in Europe, and the second oldest in the world, has been found hidden inside a church spire. The capsule dating back to 1797 was found by workers during renovation work on the 18th century church in the small town of Ziębice. The document was dated 1797 and was written in German. In the 18th century Ziębice was called Münsterberg and was part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

The documents in the capsule include names of the people involved in the building of the church. One was a personal note from two women who donated money for its construction.

The only older time capsule is known in the world. It comes from Boston and dates back to 1795.

 

Poland and Germany

War of Words on the Top

The presidents of German and Polish constitutional courts have become embroiled in a war of words, after the president of the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVG) described his Polish counterpart as a “puppet”, questioning whether her court was truly independent of the Polish government. Julia Przyłębska rejected remarks as “scandalous” and “not meeting any standards of honest public debate”.

The infamous exchange began when Przyłębska commented on a controversial recent ruling by the German Federal Constitutional Court on bond-buying programme, that could under some circumstances override rulings of the European Court of Justice. This showed that national courts, not the European ones, have the “final word”, said Przyłębska, who is a close ally of Jarosław Kaczyński.

The BVG’s decision was hailed in Warsaw, where the government has been in conflict with Brussels over the rule of law. Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, called the German court’s decision “one of the most important rulings in the history of the European Union”. According to the official PiS narrative, in line with Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, the German Federal Constitutional Court stood by the position that the European Court of Justice does not have unlimited powers.  Although Andreas Voßkuhle, president of the BVG, explained that the “ruling says that the European Court of Justice should have more extended oversight, which I believe does not reflect the Polish government’s position”.

TVP, the state owned TV that has been transformed into a PiS propaganda machine, called Voßkuhle’s comments as “hypocrisy” and called the German Constitutional Court a highly politicized institution. “As opposed to Polish judges, German judges can be and are active members of political parties,” said TVP’s Berlin correspondent. Polish embassy in Germany also reacted asking the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit to correct Przyłębska’s words. It’s important to remind that the Poland’s ambassador in Berlin is… Przyłębska’s husband.

 

US Nuclear Assets: From Germany to Poland?

Once again, a discussion covering the topic of the nuclear assets has begun in Germany. Prominent representatives of SPD are making calls to withdraw the US nuclear weapons from Germany. In the Tagesspiegel interview, such a view has been presented by Rolf Mützenich, Social-Democrats leader at the Bundestag. This happened right after the minister of defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced the plan to procure the Tornado jets´ replacement, taking into account acquisition of the limited amount of US-made Growler and Super Hornet platforms, alongside the German-made Eurofighters. A debate has started. Mützenich was supported by the Saskia Esken, socialdemocratic leader, who claimed that the money could be used better to combat the social inequality and support the education. This was however questioned by the foreign minister Heiko Maas, also from SPD.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell accused the government in Berlin of not doing its part for NATO’s policy of nuclear deterrence, and the Embassy issued a statement reminding Merkel’s government that it had pledged to contribute to NATO capabilities,  suggesting that “if Germany seeks to be a true power for peace, now is the time for solidarity”.

On the other side, US Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, suggested that in the event that Germany should attempt to “reduce its nuclear potential and weaken NATO”, “perhaps Poland, which pays its fair share, understands the risks and is on NATO’s Eastern Flank, could house the capabilities”.

Even though the government in Warsaw has not officially sought such a solution, the possibility has been discussed since late 2015 by the then deputy defense minister and Poland’s current Ambassador to NATO, Tomasz Szatkowski. However, such solution was described as very expensive (special infrastructure) and military unwise. The Polish involvement in the Nuclear Sharing programme has also been a recurring theme in the analytical studies published by the American think-tanks. It has been stressed that such step would additionally required asking the USA to tailor and certify the Polish F-35 to carry such bombs.

Moreover, it would provoke Russia’s response and could even create divisions among NATO members. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of Russian ministry of foreign affairs, said Mosbacher wants to “talk about the possibility of bringing nuclear weapons and their infrastructure closer to the Russian borders.” According to Kremlin this would constitute “a violation of one of the key provisions” of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act.

 

Fake News and Disinformation

Cyberattacks to Break Down Alliances

Poland was hit with a barrage of fake news stories in the last days of May, including a phony interview with the US commander ridiculing allied militaries. All this happened only a few days before a major NATO exercise´s kick off in the Drawsko Pomorskie training site in the northwest of the country. “The attack coincided with the beginning of the next phase of (the) Defender Europe-20 military exercise hosted by Poland,” Polish government spokesman Stanisław Żaryn said in a statement, in which he also blamed Moscow for the attacks. Żaryn added that hackers used “cyberattack tools” to post fake content on various news websites, including prominent Polish media groups.

The wave of fake news came just before the Agile Spirit exercise in June, the first large-scale exercise with US troops since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic which forced most major training events to be cancelled. Some 6.000 Polish and American troops are scheduled to exercise together in Poland from June 5th to 19th. The Defender Europe-20 drills will see around 100 tanks and more than 230 combat vehicles deployed in the training site.

According to Stars and Stripes the fake news campaign was to “attempt to break down alliance cohesion” and to “destroy the image” of the United States.

 

Polls & Trends

Presidential Race

Pollster for SuperExpress, 26.-27.05.2020

 

Andrzej Duda                                               38,94%

Rafał Trzaskowski                                      26,6%

Szymon Hołownia                                       16,41%

Krzysztof Bosak                                          5,71%

Władysław Kosianiak-Kamysz                 5,46%

Robert Biedroń                                            5,14%

others                                                             1,74%

Expected turnout: 43,1%

 

Second round predictions:

Social Changes for wPolityce.pl (both are connected to PiS)

Duda 51% vs. Trzaskowski 49%

Duda 51% vs. Hołownia 49%

Duda 51% vs. Kosiniak-Kamysz 49%

Duda 53% vs. Biedroń 47%

Duda 56% vs. Bosak 44%

 

 

Hel is Paradise

The beaches of the Hel Peninsula in Poland have been announced as the 3rd safest seaside destination to go to on holiday in post-COVID-19 Europe by the European Best Destinations.

Selected on the basis of various criteria including low number of people infected by the virus, the size of the beaches and the number of  square meters available for each person on the beach, the report by European Best Destinations said: “This huge strip of sand (35 km long, 30 meters up to 3 km wide), offers travelers millions of square meters.”

Poland came behind Preveza in Greece, which took first place, and Comporta in Alentejo, Portugal, which took the second.

Read the full report: https://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/best-of-europe/coronavirus-safest-beaches-in-europe/#content

 

 

About the author ____________________________________________

Miłosz Hodun

Expert at the Nowoczesna party. PhD, formerly a part-time teacher at Reykjavik University School of Law. His main areas of interest are comparative constitutional law and federalism. Board member of Projekt: Polska Association. Until September 2015, he worked as an expert within “Presidential Experts’ Programme” at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. He is member of the Board of Directors of the European Liberal Forum.