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Poland’s parliament has been blocked by protesters in support for opposition lawmakers unhappy about new rules restricting press reporting.

The opposition objects to government plans to limit the number of journalists allowed to cover parliamentary proceedings.

The lawmakers’ protest delayed a budget vote, which was later held away from the main parliament chamber.

Hundreds of police surrounded protesters in a late-night stand-off.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), earlier denounced the protest as “hooliganism”.

“We will not allow ourselves to be terrorized,” he said.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski left parliament with the PiS PM Beata Szydlo at about 03:00AM local time.

Opposition lawmaker Jerzy Meysztowicz told the TVN24 news channel that police used tear gas to clear a passage through protesters for their official vehicle.

The opposition accused the government of passing 2017 budget unlawfully on December 16 by transferring the key vote to a smaller hall and excluding the press.

It was the first since the restoration of democracy in 1989 that such a vote was held outside the main chamber of parliament.

Image source Getty Images

Image source Getty Images

Enough lawmakers were present for the budget vote to be valid, according to Jaroslaw Kaczynski and other PiS members, but the opposition demanded a rerun of the vote in the main parliament chamber next week.

“There is no proof that a quorum of lawmakers was present. We suspect that people who were not allowed to vote took part,” said leader of the opposition Nowoczesna party Ryszard Petru.

The ruling party has been accused of restricting press freedom since coming to power in 2015.

In 2017 only a few reporters will be allowed into parliament.

Only five selected Polish TV stations will be permitted to make recordings of parliamentary sessions.

The government argues that it does not believe the measures are restrictive.

Supporters of the move argue it will stop lawmakers from being accosted by journalists inside the parliamentary building.


Last night’s demonstration began when an opposition lawmaker held aloft a placard reading “free media”.

He was told by Speaker Marek Kuchcinski, who is a PiS member, that he would no longer be allowed to attend parliamentary proceedings.

However, by then other opposition lawmakers converged on the podium to demand press freedom and an end to censorship.

It is believed to be the first protest of its kind in the Polish parliament for 10 years.

The proposed new rules – due to be enforced in 2017 – ban all recording of parliamentary sessions except by the five selected television stations. They also restrict the number of reporters permitted to enter the building.

Human rights campaigners have also condemned the plans, with former dissident Seweryn Blumsztajn condemning them as a “return to communist-era practices”.

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According to new documents seized by Poland’s history institute, the country’s former president and Solidarity hero Lech Walesa was an informant for the Communist party’s secret police.

The documents were taken earlier this week from the home of a former communist-era interior minister, Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak.

Lukasz Kaminski, head of the Institute of National Remembrance, said the documents appear authentic.

Lech Walesa has long denied being an informer in the 1970s.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

He said the new materials could not originate from him, according to Polish radio.

The 279 pages of documents have not yet been properly analyzed, and will be made public in due course, Lukaszs Kaminski said.

Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak’s widow had wanted to sell the documents, the institute said.

The state body has the power to prosecute.

Lech Walesa strenuously denied long-standing allegations of collaboration.

The former president was cleared of security service collaboration by a special court in 2000.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his role as leader of Solidarity – the first free trade union in the Soviet bloc.

Lech Walesa was elected Polish president in 1990, after the fall of communism.

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Europe is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on the continent.

European leaders gathered in the Polish port of Gdansk for a midnight ceremony at the site where the first shots of the war were fired.

The Gdansk commemoration was seen as a slight to Russia’s Victory Parade on May 9, which has been boycotted by Western leaders because of Ukraine.

There will also be ceremonies in Paris, London, Berlin, as well as Washington.

The commemoration in Gdansk was marked with a 21-gun salute on the stroke of midnight. Beams of light illuminated a monument to Polish defenders in Westerplatte and the national anthem was played.

In a speech, Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski said the war had started with the co-operation of two totalitarian regimes led by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.Victory in Europe Day 1945

Bronislaw Komorowski went on to say that the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 did not bring freedom but instead communism and the Iron Curtain. Such division finally ended, the president said, with the integration of the region into the European Union.

The event was attended by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of several countries including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine.

Many other Western leaders – who are boycotting Moscow’s event and for whom the Gdansk commemoration was partly organized – did not attend.

Among those in Gdansk was Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko who said it was possible to draw parallels from history and the current situation in Europe.

“Annexation and invasion, under the pretext of defending ethnic minorities… could all become the new reality,” he said.

Relations between Russia and the West have been soured by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula last year and support for rebels in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Moscow denies it is arming the rebels and sending troops across the border.

Russia, which lost more citizens to the WW2 than any other nation, will stage its biggest-ever military parade during its Victory ceremony in Moscow’s Red Square on May 9.

On May 8, there will be a ceremony in Germany where President Joachim Gauck will lay a wreath at a cemetery for Soviet soldiers. The German parliament will meet in special session.

In London, a remembrance service will be held at the Cenotaph and 200 beacons will later be lit across the country.

In France, where VE (Victory in Europe) Day is a national holiday, President Francois Hollande will lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

In the US, a ceremony will be held at the national World War Two memorial in Washington followed by a fly-past of vintage fighter planes.

On May 8, 1945, Allied forces accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, marking the end of the war in Europe.

However, it was not the end of WW2. It would take another three months before Japan surrendered.

Ten Russian bikers from Vladimir Putin’s Night Wolves bike gang have been turned back at the Polish border with Belarus.

The Night Wolves had planned to cross Poland on their way to Berlin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on May 9.

The Polish government described their plans last week as “provocative”.

The Night Wolves back President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine policy – something strongly opposed by Poland.

The bike gang is subject to US sanctions for alleged active involvement in Crimea – annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year – and for helping to recruit separatist fighters for Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.Night Wolves bikers Terespol Poland

Russia’s foreign ministry had already expressed “outrage” at Poland’s ban.

The border guards, who did not specify that the bikers were Night Wolves members, said the ten did not fulfill the conditions to enter and stay in Poland. Polish news agency PAP reported that the ten were members of the Night Wolves.

The bikers held in a Polish facility at Terespol after Belarus frontier guards let them pass.

On April 24, the Polish foreign ministry cited safety concerns, saying the bikers had informed the Polish authorities of their plans too late and had provided vague information.

However, Polish media reports suggested some 200 Night Wolves bikers had managed to cross into Poland from the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad after obtaining visas, though they were not part of the group heading from Moscow to Berlin.

However, some Polish bikers are reported to view the Night Wolves favorably, with one group offering to escort them on their trip through Poland.

On April 25, the Night Wolves stopped at the Khatyn memorial near Minsk in Belarus, to pay tribute to villagers massacred by Nazi troops.

The Night Wolves intend to cross several countries on a 3,720 mile trip following the path taken by the Red Army in World War Two, with the aim of arriving in Berlin in time to coincide with Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on May 9.

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Vladimir Putin’s bikers have begun a controversial ride to Berlin, even though Poland says it will not allow them to cross the country.

The Night Wolves bike club wants to retrace the route of the Red Army in World War Two, and visit memorials to the Soviet troops who died fighting the Nazis.

Poland’s PM Ewa Kopacz called the trip a provocation.Night Wolves Berlin ride

The ultra-patriotic bikers are renowned for their staunch support of President Vladimir Putin, particularly his policies in Ukraine.

The US has put the Night Wolves on its sanctions list.

The bikers heading for Berlin joined a large crowd at the Night Wolves’ headquarters in Moscow on April 25 for the annual launch of the season.

Their leather jackets were newly embroidered: “Routes of Victory, 1941-45“.

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Poland has banned The Night Wolves biker gang backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin from entering the country.

The Night Wolves had planned to enter next week as part of a ride across Europe to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War Two.

Poland’s PM Ewa Kopacz had called the plan a “provocation”.

The Night Wolves’ vice-president, Felix Chernyakhovsky, has insisted the bikers still intend to make the trip.

“Everything remains the same. We’re starting tomorrow as planned,” he told Interfax news agency.

The Night Wolves are subject to US sanctions for alleged active involvement in Crimea and for helping to recruit separatist fighters for Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.Vladimir Putin biker gang The Night Wolves

Russia’s foreign ministry said it was “outraged” at Poland’s decision.

A Facebook page entitled “No to the Russian bandits’ ride through Poland” quickly gained support from more than 10,000 people.

Warsaw has been a strong critic of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The Polish foreign ministry said three other Russian biker groups would be allowed into the country.

The ministry said it was notified of the group’s plans only on April 20, and without details of the route or number of participants.

It added that it had informed the Russian embassy in Warsaw that the lack of information meant “it could not ensure proper security for the participants”.

However, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “It is clear that the decision that was taken has a political motive.”

The Night Wolves intend to cross several countries, following a path taken by the Red Army in World War Two, with the aim of arriving in Berlin in time for May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow.

The 3,720 mile road trip would take them through Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, before reaching Germany.

US Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull has been summoned over Holocaust comments made by FBI director James Comey.

Poland’s foreign ministry said James Comey had suggested in a Washington Post article that some Poles were accomplices.

After the summons, Stephen Mull said he made it clear the US believed “Nazi Germany alone” was responsible.

Six million Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis during World War Two, half of them Jewish.James Comey Holocaust Poland

In the Washington Post article on April 16, aimed at raising education about the Holocaust, James Comey wrote: “In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil.

“They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.”

The words sparked a storm of protest in Poland.

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski told Polish television the comments were an “insult to thousands of Poles who helped Jews”.

PM Ewa Kopacz said: “To those who are incapable of presenting the historic truth in an honest way, I want to say that Poland was not a perpetrator but a victim of World War Two. I would expect full historical knowledge from officials who speak on the matter.”

Ambassador Stephen Mull, who on April 19 attended ceremonies marking the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis, said that any suggestion that “Poland, or any other countries other than Nazi Germany, bear responsibility for the Holocaust, is a mistake, harmful and insulting”.

After the summons, Stephen Mull said: “I made clear that the opinion that Poland is in any way responsible for the Holocaust is not the position of the United States.

“Nazi Germany alone bears responsibility. I now have a lot of work before me to make things right in this situation.”

However, Stephen Mull also said he believed the wider message of the article was that many people had either aided the Nazis or not done enough in response to the atrocities, including in the US.

The Washington Post on April 19 published a column criticizing James Comey’s comments.

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Roman Polanski is to attend an extradition hearing in Krakow court after the US lodged a request with Poland to have him brought back.

The Polish-born film director has been wanted by US police since 1977, when he fled the country after being charged with assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

Roman Polanski, 81, has been working in Poland to prepare for a film he wants to shoot later this year.

The hearing will take place in Krakow on February 25.

Even if the court rules Roman Polanski should be extradited, the justice minister can approve or reject the decision.

Roman Polanski’s lawyer Jan Olszewski confirmed his client would be there.Roman Polanski extradition hearing Poland

Prosecutors in Poland refused a US request to arrest Roman Polanski in October but see no legal obstacles to the extradition.

If the Polish court agrees to the extradition, a final decision would be taken by the Polish justice minister.

It appears unlikely Poland would allow Roman Polanski to be extradited, where he is viewed by many as one of the country’s greatest living artists.

The Rosemary’s Baby director was held in Switzerland in 2009 after travelling to Zurich to pick up a prize at a film festival.

However, the extradition bid failed and he was eventually allowed to return to his home in France.

Roman Polanski has been to Poland several times in recent years.

In 2010, the Polish prosecutor general said Roman Polanski could not be extradited because under Polish law too much time had passed since the offences.

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Director Roman Polanski has announced he will cooperate with Polish authorities over an extradition request to the US, where he is wanted for a 1977 assault case.

Roman Polanski, who is currently working on a film in Krakow, served 42 days for unlawful s** with a 13-year-old before fleeing Poland.

Polish prosecutors have confirmed they will question the 81-year-old, who has both Polish and French passports.

Roman Polanski said he had “confidence in Poland’s justice system”.

“I will submit myself to the procedure and we will see,” he told a TV news channel.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“I hope everything will be alright.”

Poland generally does not allow extradition of its citizens, but has an extradition agreement with the US who filed a request at the beginning of January.

Roman Polanski was arrested in 2009 by Swiss authorities after travelling to Zurich to attend a film festival, but avoided extradition.

His movements are restricted by a warrant in effect in 188 countries, but he has avoided extradition by travelling between France, Poland and Switzerland.

Roman Polanski is working on a new film, An Officer and A Spy, about a 19th Century French scandal dubbed “the Dreyfus affair”.

Roman Polanski won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist, a harrowing story set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw that mirrored his own childhood experiences.

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Roman Polanski has been freed in Poland after being questioned by prosecutors.

The film director has been wanted by US police since 1977 after fleeing the country before he could be sentenced for assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

US authorities contacted Polish officials as Roman Polanski attended the opening of a Jewish museum in Warsaw.

Roman Polanski was questioned in Krakow.

“Roman Polanski said he would comply with all requests made by prosecutors in this case and provided his address,” Police justice ministry spokesman Mateusz Martyniuk told AFP.

“Prosecutors therefore decided not to arrest him in connection with a possible US extradition request.”

The Polish government confirmed that the US had contacted authorities asking them to arrest Polanski after he travelled to Warsaw for the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Mateusz Martyniuk said Roman Polanski’s extradition was still possible, but as the US had not yet forwarded an extradition request, Polanski “is a free citizen and is free to travel”.

Roman Polanski has been freed in Poland after being questioned by prosecutors

Roman Polanski has been freed in Poland after being questioned by prosecutors

He was held in Switzerland in 2009 after travelling to Zurich to pick up a prize at a film festival.

However, the extradition bid failed and he was eventually allowed to return to France.

He has been to Poland several times in recent years and was pictured on television at the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

In 2010, the Polish prosecutor general said Roman Polanski could not be extradited because under Polish law too much time had passed since the offences.

Police in Los Angeles charged the director with s** offences including rape in 1977 before he accepted a plea deal, but he fled the country on the eve of his sentencing.

Last year his victim, Samantha Geimer, now 51, published her account of what happened in a book called The Girl: A Life Lived in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski is currently directing a stage show in Paris called The Vampires’ Ball, but has said he wants to shoot a film on location in Poland on the condition he will not face extradition.

Russia has reduced gas supplies to Poland by 45%, Poland’s state gas firm PGNiG says, amid tensions over Ukraine.

The news came just hours after Poland stopped providing gas to Ukraine through “reverse-flow” pipelines.

The Russian gas volumes were 24% lower on September 9 and 20% lower on September 8, according to PGNiG. That shortfall prompted Poland to halt reverse-flow.

Poland and Ukraine rely heavily on Russian natural gas. Russia is in a pricing dispute over gas with Ukraine.

Some analysts believe Russia, which stopped gas supplies to Ukraine in June over the pricing dispute, is punishing Poland for sending gas to Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces have been fighting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine since April, after the separatists declared independence in two regions.

Russia has denied arming the rebels and sending soldiers across the border.

Russia's state gas monopoly Gazprom denied Poland's allegation that it had reduced gas supplies

Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom denied Poland’s allegation that it had reduced gas supplies

On September 10, Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom denied Poland’s allegation that it had reduced gas supplies.

“Currently exactly the same volume of gas is being delivered to Poland as on previous days – 23 million cubic metres daily,” Gazprom said in a statement quoted by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

Hungary and Slovakia pump much more gas to Ukraine than Poland via reverse-flow, but they have not yet reported a significant drop in their supply from Russia.

Earlier this year Gazprom and President Vladimir Putin warned of consequences if EU member states went ahead with reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin argued that such deliveries would undermine existing gas contracts with the EU.

The Russian business daily Kommersant reported that this week Poland asked for extra Russian gas supplies because of a cold snap, but Gazprom refused, saying it did not have enough gas to pump into Russia’s underground storage tanks.

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Russia has banned the imports of fruit and vegetables from Poland, depriving it of a major export market.

Russia’s food hygiene authorities said the imports had unacceptable levels of pesticide residues and nitrates.

They earn Poland more than 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) annually.

Russia is Poland’s biggest market for apples.

The move follows EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine – and Poland has condemned Russian actions there.

Russia has banned the imports of fruit and vegetables from Poland, depriving it of a major export market

Russia has banned the imports of fruit and vegetables from Poland, depriving it of a major export market

Poland and some other former communist bloc countries are among the most vocal critics of Russia in the current crisis, accusing Moscow of supplying the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine with arms and volunteers.

The cost to Poland of the import ban is likely to be 0.6% of GDP (national output) by the end of the year, Polish Deputy PM Janusz Piechocinski was quoted as saying.

Agriculture accounts for about 3.8% of Poland’s total GDP. Polish growers plan to seek compensation from the EU for the loss of earnings.

Poles have been posting images of apples on social media as a way of protesting against Russia.

On Thursday Russia announced a ban on more imported Ukrainian food: soy products, cornmeal, sunflowers and fruit juice.

Earlier Russia banned Ukrainian dairy produce and canned fish and vegetables. Last year it banned Ukrainian Roshen chocolate, produced by billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko, who is now Ukraine’s president.

Previously Russia also imposed such boycotts on Georgia and Moldova – former Soviet republics, like Ukraine, whose pro-Western policies have angered the Kremlin.

Russia is an important export market for Georgian and Moldovan wine. Currently Russia is blocking imports of Moldovan fruit. In each case the Russian authorities say they have public health reasons for imposing a ban.

In January – before its March annexation of Crimea – Russia also imposed a ban on imports of pigs and pork from the EU.

The European Commission says that move was “disproportionate”, closing a market worth 25% of total EU pig and pork exports. In 2013 those exports to Russia totaled 1.4 billion euros.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Poland broke the European human rights convention in helping the CIA to render two terror suspects.

The judges said Poland had co-operated with the illegal transfers in 2002-2003, allowing two suspects to be interrogated on its territory.

It is the first such case concerning a CIA “black site” prison in Poland.

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian, was arrested in Pakistan and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi, in Dubai.

Poland broke the European human rights convention in helping the CIA to render two terror suspects

Poland broke the European human rights convention in helping the CIA to render two terror suspects

The court held that “the treatment to which the applicants had been subjected by the CIA during their detention in Poland had amounted to torture”.

The two men are currently held at the US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

They complained to the court that they had been tortured at a US-run facility in Poland called Stare Kiejkuty, where Nashiri was held for six months and Abu Zubaydah for nine.

The ECHR, in its press release on the case, said that “the Polish state, on account of its acquiescence and connivance in the HVD [extraordinary rendition] Program, had to be regarded as responsible for the violation of the applicants’ rights committed on its territory”.

It added that Poland had been aware that the men’s transfer to and from its territory had been carried out by the process of “extraordinary rendition”.

“Consequently, by enabling the CIA to transfer the applicants to its other secret detention facilities, the Polish authorities exposed them to a foreseeable serious risk of further ill-treatment and conditions of detention in breach of Article Three [prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment],” it said.

The court ordered the Polish government to pay each of the men 100,000 euros ($135,000) in damages. It also awarded Abu Zubaydah 30,000 euros to cover his costs.

A plane carrying members of a parachute club crashed in southern Poland killing 11 people.

Rescue workers said only one of the 12 people on board survived and had suffered serious injuries.

Eleven people have been killed when the Polish plane carrying members of a parachute club crashed near Czestochowa

Eleven people have been killed when the Polish plane carrying members of a parachute club crashed near Czestochowa (photo AP)

The Piper Navajo light aircraft had just taken off from an airfield in Rudniki near Czestochowa. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Witnesses said the plane’s engines had made an odd, droning sound before it began to fall from the sky.

Police spokeswoman Joanna Lazar said local people had helped to rescue the sole survivor.

“We have established that just after the crash local residents came running towards the wreckage and helped to save one of the passengers from the plane. A 40-year-old man was taken to hospital.”

Polish police and prosecutors have launched an investigation into the crash.

Donald Tusk’s government has won a parliamentary vote of confidence sparked by a scandal over leaked tapes of Polish senior officials.

PM Donald Tusk had told parliament that without a pledge of majority support he would not be able to effectively represent Poland in the EU.

The apparently secret recordings have been released by Wprost magazine.

In one, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski allegedly says that Poland’s alliance with the US is worthless.

Donald Tusk’s government has won a parliamentary vote of confidence sparked by a scandal over leaked tapes of Polish senior officials

Donald Tusk’s government has won a parliamentary vote of confidence sparked by a scandal over leaked tapes of Polish senior officials

In another, Central Bank head Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz are apparently heard discussing how the bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015; such action would be in violation of the bank’s independence.

All have said their words were taken out of context and they deny any wrongdoing.

Wprost said it obtained the recordings from a businessman.

In Wednesday’s vote, Donald Tusk’s centre-right two-party coalition received backing from 237 lawmakers, with 203 against in the 460-member parliament. The prime minister needed a simple majority of 231 for the vote of confidence to pass.

Donald Tusk had called for the vote before heading to the EU summit in Brussels later this week.

The secret recordings were made over several months at locations including high-end Warsaw restaurants.

In a speech to parliament earlier on Wednesday, Donald Tusk said he believed a criminal group was behind the recordings.

Polish prosecutors say they have charged two people with illegally recording conversations and were questioning two more.

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Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called his country’s ties with the US “worthless”, Wprost news magazine reports, giving excerpts of a secretly recorded conversation.

Wprost magazine is already at the centre of another scandal over leaked tapes involving the Polish government.

Radek Sikorski called Poland’s stance towards the US “downright harmful because it creates a false sense of security”, according to the new leak.

The foreign minister has not denied using such language.

According to the excerpts, Radek Sikorski told former Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski that “the Polish-US alliance isn’t worth anything”.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called his country's ties with the US worthless

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called his country’s ties with the US worthless

He also warned that such a stance would cause “conflict with the Germans, Russians”.

Radek Sikorski also used a racially loaded term to describe the Polish stance – “murzynskosc”, which suggests a slave mentality.

“[We are] suckers, total suckers. The problem in Poland is that we have shallow pride and low self-esteem,” Radek Sikorski was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month Radek Sikorski, a conservative and leading critic of Russia in the current Ukraine crisis, was nominated by the Polish government to replace Baroness Catherine Ashton as EU foreign policy chief.

Baroness Catherine Ashton, known as the EU High Representative, will step down in November, but EU leaders have not yet decided who will replace her.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski told reporters on Monday that the US was a “very important ally and partner”. Radek Sikorski and PM Donald Tusk hit back at the leak, accusing an “organized crime group” of being behind the revelations.

State prosecutors are already examining material provided by Wprost on Saturday, days after a controversial police raid to find separate leaked tapes published by the magazine a week ago. The magazine’s editor had refused to hand over his laptop during the raid, which was broadcast live on Polish TV.

Bugging of conversations to gain information is illegal in Poland, punishable by up to two years in jail, Polish national radio reports. But prosecutors were widely criticized for the raid and PM Donald Tusk said he may have to call snap elections.

In last week’s leak, Wprost published the content of an alleged private conversation in which the head of the National Bank of Poland discussed the next election with a minister.

Under Polish law, the central bank must remain independent of politics.

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Polish Justice Minister Marek Biernacki has said a controversial raid to find leaked tapes that embarrassed the government “should have never taken place”.

Marek Biernacki said the raid on the offices of news magazine Wprost had raised “legitimate concerns”.

Wprost published an alleged private conversation in which the head of Poland’s central bank discusses the next election with a minister.

Under Polish law, the central bank must remain independent of politics.

Transcripts of the recordings, made at a restaurant in Warsaw popular with politicians, were published earlier this week.

A Polish prosecutor, accompanied by state security agents, raided Wprost's offices overnight on Wednesday

A Polish prosecutor, accompanied by state security agents, raided Wprost’s offices overnight on Wednesday

In the recording, Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz is allegedly heard talking to Marek Belka, head of the National Bank of Poland.

Marek Belka is apparently heard calling for Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski to be removed in return for the bank’s support in the event of an economic crisis.

Jacek Rostowski was replaced four months later – but PM Donald Tusk denies this was as a result of the taped discussion.

Donald Tusk backed both men on Monday and said the leaked recordings were “an attempt at a coup d’etat, bringing down the Polish government by illegal means”.

A prosecutor, accompanied by state security agents, raided Wprost‘s offices overnight on Wednesday and its editor said “physical force” had been used in an attempt to seize his laptop.

Justice Minister Marek Biernacki said the prosecutors’ actions could be considered as “too far-reaching” and raise “legitimate concerns about breaching of journalistic confidentiality”.

Michal Krolikowski, the Justice Ministry’s undersecretary of state, added to the criticism, saying there had been “several legal deficiencies and some errors” in the operation.

The emergence of the tapes and the government’s handling of the situation has put Donald Tusk under severe pressure.

On Thursday the prime minister said “the only solution” would be a snap election if “the crisis in confidence” continued.

Donald Tusk and his centre-right coalition won a second term in office at the October 2011 parliamentary election.

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President Barack Obama met Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko, and pledged support for plans to restore peace to the country.

Both presidents are in Warsaw to mark 25 years since the fall of communism in Poland.

Barack Obama called Petro Poroshenko a “wise selection” to lead Ukraine, and said the nation could become a vibrant, thriving democracy if the world community stood behind it.

President Barack Obama met Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko, and pledged support for plans to restore peace to the country

President Barack Obama met Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko, and pledged support for plans to restore peace to the country

Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire sweet manufacturer, was elected in May and will be inaugurated as Ukraine’s president on Saturday.

Barack Obama pledged $5 million of military assistance to Kiev including body armor and night-vision goggles.

The aid follows $18 million promised since early March for food, clothes, radios and other equipment.

Barack Obama has now arrived in Brussels for a meeting of the G7 major industrial nations, the first since Russia was removed from the G8 in protest over its annexation of Crimea in March.

He is expected to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings in Normandy on Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be at the ceremony but the two leaders have no meeting scheduled.

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During his visit to Poland, President Barack Obama has unveiled plans for a $1billion fund to increase US military deployments to Europe.

Barack Obama, who will meet NATO leaders amid concerns over the Ukraine crisis, said the security of America’s European allies was “sacrosanct”.

In April, 150 US soldiers were sent to Poland for military exercises amid growing tensions with Russia.

Barack Obama will also visit Belgium and France during his tour.

Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers are set to meet in Brussels to discuss the long-term security implications of Russian actions over Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies Western claims that it is supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

During his visit to Poland, President Barack Obama has unveiled plans for a $1billion fund to increase US military deployments to Europe

During his visit to Poland, President Barack Obama has unveiled plans for a $1billion fund to increase US military deployments to Europe (photo Reuters)

“Our commitment to Poland’s security as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe is a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct,” Barack Obama said after inspecting a joint unit of US and Polish F-16 pilots.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Barack Obama warned Russia against provoking further tensions in Ukraine.

He said Moscow should use its influence to call off separatists in Ukraine’s east.

Barack Obama reaffirmed the US commitment to NATO’s principle of collective defense, announcing plans for a $1 billion European Reassurance Initiative.

The program, which will fund additional US military rotations to Europe, will need congressional approval.

The US would also “step up partnership” with countries such as Ukraine and Moldova, he added.

Bronislaw Komorowski said Poland would increase its military budget to 2% of its GDP, a move Barack Obama welcomed as a “reminder that every [NATO] ally needs to carry their share” in the alliance.

In a statement, the White House said the European Reassurance Initiative would not “come at the expense of other defense priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance”.

In France, Barack will take part in ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is also invited, but the White House has already made it clear that the American and Russian leaders will not hold formal bilateral talks.

Washington and its European allies have repeatedly urged Moscow to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has continued between separatists and government troops.

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General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland’s last Communist leader, has died aged at the age of 90 after a long illness, Polish media say.

Wojciech Jaruzelski led Poland from 1981, when he declared martial law and ordered the arrest of the pro-democracy Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

He lifted martial law two years later and after growing unrest was forced to negotiate with Solidarity in 1989.

General Wojciech Jaruzelski led Poland from 1981 to 1990

General Wojciech Jaruzelski led Poland from 1981 to 1990

He had been in ill health for some time.

Lech Walesa said that a “great man from a generation of betrayers has gone”.

Wojciech Jaruzelski fought in a Polish unit of the Russian army during World War Two and rose up the military ranks after the war to become chief “political officer” of Poland’s armed forces.

He was defense minister at the time of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, in which Polish soldiers took part.

Wojciech Jaruzelski denied ordering the fatal shooting of dozens of shipyard workers in the northern cities of Gdansk and Gdynia in 1971, for which he was later put on trial.

He was also tried in 2008 by Poland’s post-Communist authorities for his December 1981 decision to impose martial law. Tanks rolled on to the streets and thousands of opposition activists were arrested overnight.

Dozens of people died in the military crackdown, which the general insisted he ordered to avert invasion by Moscow.

His trial was suspended in 2011 after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Wojciech Jaruzelski resigned as president in 1990 and was succeeded by Lech Walesa.

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Police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up violent clashes during Poland Independence Day march in capital Warsaw.

A number of people were injured during the annual rally organized by far-right and nationalist movements.

The violence started when groups of youths broke off from the main march to attack a squat and set fires to cars.

They also set ablaze a rainbow-colored arch symbolizing tolerance, and tried to attack the Russian embassy.

Police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up violent clashes during Poland Independence Day march in capital Warsaw

Police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up violent clashes during Poland Independence Day march in capital Warsaw

The protesters – many of them wearing masks – threw firecrackers at the diplomatic mission. Several youths also tried to scale the building’s fence but were stopped by the police.

“There is no justification for hooliganism,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said.

The authorities also said that at least four police officers were among those injured during the violence.

Thousands of people took part in the main march, which began noisily but peacefully. They carried white-and-red Polish flags and chanted: “God, honor, fatherland!”

For the third year in a row violence broke out during the march.

The rally commemorates the day Poland regained its independence at the end of World War One in 1918.

Before that, Poland had been carved up between Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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Polish doctors say they have performed a total face transplant on a 33-year-old man whose face was torn off in an accident with stone-cutting machinery.

Surgeons at the Oncology Center in Gliwice said the 27-hour operation was performed on May 15, just weeks after the accident.

The head of the team of doctors, Adam Maciejewski, said it was the world’s first life-saving face transplant carried out so soon after the damage.

The accident took place on April 23.

Previous transplants have taken months or years to prepare.

A computer-generated image, provided by the hospital, shows the extraordinary damage the man suffered as a result of the industrial accident.

It required surgery to reconstruct his face, jaws, palate and the bottom of his eye sockets.

But incredibly, the emergency procedure appears to have been a success.

Polish doctors say they have performed a total face transplant on a 33-year-old man whose face was torn off in an accident with stone-cutting machinery

Polish doctors say they have performed a total face transplant on a 33-year-old man whose face was torn off in an accident with stone-cutting machinery

A picture of the patient taken yesterday, six days after the surgery, showed him making a thumbs-up gesture from his hospital bed.

A Spanish farmer had the world’s first full-face transplant in March 2010.

Oscar, whose surname was not revealed to protect his privacy, had blown most of his face off with a gun in the hunting accident. He was left unable to breathe, swallow or talk properly.

Nine earlier surgical attempts to rebuild his face had failed.

He made medical history when he became the first person in the world to undergo a full facial transplant.

The 24-hour operation involved 30 surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and other medical experts at the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona.

The complicated procedure included plastic surgery and microsurgery to repair blood vessels.

Oscar required speech therapy, physiotherapy and facial therapy to help him recover full movement in his facial muscles.

There have been 11 partial face transplants carried out since Isabelle Dinoire had her face repaired by French surgeons in 2005. Five have been performed in France, two in Spain and two in the U.S, one in Egypt and one in China.

There have also been two full face transplants, Oscar and a man known as Jerome in France.

At least 21 people have been hospitalized with injuries and more than 150 have been arrested during violent clashes that took place in the Polish capital Warsaw yesterday on country’s Independence Day.

Marches by far-right nationalists have been growing in size on the national holiday, with left-wing activists turning out to oppose them.

Police used water cannon and pepper spray to bring the situation under control.

They responded after right-wing marchers, many with scarves hiding their faces, began pelting them with stones, bottles and flares, national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said.

The police were attempting to keep the nationalist and leftist demonstrators apart.

At least 21 people have been hospitalized with injuries and more than 150 have been arrested during violent clashes that took place in the Polish capital Warsaw

At least 21 people have been hospitalized with injuries and more than 150 have been arrested during violent clashes that took place in the Polish capital Warsaw

A police plan to keep hostile marches from one another was successful, he said, but “thugs and hooligans joined the marches to target police”.

Nine police officers were injured, including three who were hospitalized with serious injuries, according to Mr Sokolowski.

Rightist demonstrators later set fire to a television van covering the unrest.

Earlier in the day, leftist demonstrators chanting “Fascism will not pass” attacked police as they tried to stop them blocking a major Warsaw thoroughfare, down which the nationalist march was due to pass, Mariusz Sokolowski said.

For weeks, a coalition of leftists, anarchists, pro-abortionists, Greens and gay-rights activists had been publicising plans to block the Independence March being organized by nationalist youth groups All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp, Reuters news agency reported.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he vowed to make sure those arrested for attacking police were severely punished.

Under Polish law, an assault on a law-enforcement officer carries a maximum three-year jail sentence.

This year the marches were seen as a major test of the country’s security capabilities before the Euro 2012 football championship, which Poland will co-host with Ukraine next summer, the Associated Press reports.

The 11 November celebration marks the day in 1918 when Poland regained its independence, 123 years after it was divided between Russia, Prussia and the Austrian Empire.

Speaking at an official Independence Day ceremony earlier, President Bronislaw Komorowski had urged Poles to “celebrate this patriotic occasion together, not against one another”.

President Komorowski honoured fallen veterans by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during state ceremonies.

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