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Poland: Controversial commission against ‘Russian influence’ formed

The Law and Justice Party (PiS), which is in power in Polandyesterday Wednesday (30/8) gave the green light to the start of the work of the controversial committee to combat “Russian influence”, the law for its creation has been criticized by Washington and Brussels amid allegations that its main aim is to hurt the opposition, a month and a half before elections are held in the country.

The parliamentary majority elected the nine members of the committee, while the entire opposition refused to propose their own candidates and decided to abstain from the vote, as it characterizes the new institution as “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

No clarification was given on the date when the commission will begin its work.

An amended version of the law establishing it was signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda in early August.

The text provides that the commission will be able to judge whether a person “acted under Russian influence” and thus “does not guarantee good practice [κυβερνητικών] activities in the public interest”.

In the new version, however, a provision was deleted that provided that the committee’s decision would include the mandatory deprivation of the right to be elected and hold public office. Furthermore, a provision has been added that provides for appeal procedures, for which the Warsaw Board of Appeals will be competent.

Throughout the legislative process, the text provoked strong reactions, both in Poland and abroad.

The day before yesterday, a Commission representative recalled that in July, Commissioner Didier Reyders sent a letter to the Polish authorities urging them to “do not take such measures in the run-up to the elections” and stressed that the European Commission “will not hesitate to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure” if the committee on “Russian influence” acts in a way that affects the upcoming elections.

After the initial version of the bill was adopted at the end of May, the State Department expressed its concern that it could be “used in an abusive manner” and prevent the holding of “free and fair elections in Poland.”

Elections in the Eastern European country will be held on October 15.

The Polish opposition calls the disputed text the “Tusk law”, referring to the leader of the Citizens’ Platform party, Donald Tusk, the former prime minister (2007-2014) and then president of the European Council, a black sheep of the Polish right.

Source: News Beast

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