From Poland With Love – August

Topic of the Month

Stop the Nonsense

Małgorzata Szutowicz, best known as Margot, who is a non-binary anarchist activist and one of the founders of the Stop Bzdurom (Stop the Nonsense) collective, was put in pre-trial detention for two months for acts of civil disobedience, including using a knife to cut the tires of a van that drives around broadcasting anti-LGBT messages, including a claim that “homosexuals are preparing society to accept pedophilia.” Such a detention is normally used in cases of serious crimes and dangerous criminals.

Currently Szutowicz is facing one more charge, of hanging a rainbow flag on a Jesus monument belonging to a church downtown Warsaw. Szutowicz’s lawyer said she could face up to two years in prison for offending people’s religious feelings “by outraging in public an object of religious worship”, as well as a fine or community service for the second crime of profaning a monument.

According to witnesses, the activist was forced to endure “transphobic comments and jokes” during her arrest. She was also set to be detained in a male facility and denied access to a lawyer. She has been publicly misgendered by the police and PiS politicians.

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Lithuania Takes a Clear Stand on the Belarus Crisis

In the light of the serious political crisis in Belarus, Lithuania is positioning itself as a strong advocate of EU-wide sanctions against members of the Lukashenko regime, responsible for election fraud and police violence. The Western EU member states, on the other hand, are usually cautious not to provoke Russian intervention. Vladimir Putin assured Alexander Lukashenko that, if necessary, he would set up a reserve police force for deployment in Belarus.  What role does Lithuania play in the EU’s Eastern policy? How should the EU deal with Russia and the suppression of democracy in Belarus? An interview with Petras Auštrevičius, Lithuanian MEP of the “Renew Europe” Group and the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.

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Thousands March for Press Freedom in Hungary

Concerns about the plurality of independent media in Hungary are growing after a government-affiliated entrepreneur bought into the business of the country’s largest still independent news portal. For weeks, the portal’s employees have been warning that their independence is under threat. Following the dismissal of the editor-in-chief, more than 80 employees submitted their resignations. Thousands of Hungarians took to the streets in Budapest to protest against the government’s influence on the media.

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Mr. Ziobro and “Gender Gibberish”

Guest contribution by Milosz Hodún

Justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro has vowed to submit a motion aimed at withdrawing Poland from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe´s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. He said the Convention contains harmful, ideological elements. He also stressed that Poland is doing just fine with protection of women rights and prevention of domestic violence without the Convention. Ziobro’s deputy Marcin Romanowski added that Poland should drop out of the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible, calling the treaty “gender gibberish.”

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[Study] Czech Seeders of Disinformation: Addressing Knowledge Gaps and Drawing Policy Implications

Nikola Hořejš, Matěj Jungwirth, Jitka Uhrová, STEM Research Institute

Short Summary

In the spring of 2020, the STEM institute, supported by the Prague office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, carried out an extensive investigation of Czech seeders of disinformation. They are currently estimated to make up approximately 5 % of the Czech society. Through the combination of a quantitative survey and 13 qualitative in-depth interviews, the seeder group was found to be more affluent, educated and interested in politics than media stereotypes would suggest. Furthermore, seeders’ motivations and media literacy levels vary greatly, wherefore one-size-fits-all solutions could be rather counterproductive. For example, some groups of seeders would benefit from basic media literacy initiatives, while others are immune to any official communication or even warnings.

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Is the State of Emergency in Hungary Really Over?

Last week, the Hungarian parliament voted to end the state of emergency, which gave the government the power to decide by decree on issues related to the Covid 19 pandemic. The emergency legislation adopted in March was heavily criticised because it did not have a clear end date. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is now demanding an apology from all those who criticised him and his government for the so-called “Enabling Act” and accused him of using the Corona pandemic to undermine democracy. At the same time, the parliament, in which Orbán has a two-thirds majority, approved a new draft law that will make it easier for the government to continue to govern by decree.

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