Mateusz Piskorski was arrested this May in Poland under suspicion of spying for Russia. Leader of the opposition party Change, he was well-known for his pro-Russian sympathies.
It can already be argued at this point that the arrest of the politician is in itself an unprecedented event. In any country, such an arrest inevitably leads to the following reasonable question: Is this arrest not essentially political?
All the more so since the public has yet to be shown evidence for bringing such serious accusations against Piskorski.
We decided to conduct a short survey among Polish politicians representing most of the country’s major parties. We asked the ruling party who else constitutes a threat for Poland’s national security besides Piskorski’s Change. And of parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition, we asked whether or not they fear their parties could be next.
Overall, as we wrote earlier, a number of politicians see in the arrest a warning for the opposition and test of social opinion. However, the opposition and the ruling party are unanimous that the authorities and special services have to provide society with concrete and irrefutable evidence in order to curb speculation and dispel fears.
Ruling party Law and Justice
Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk, Sejm Deputy
I really do not know what materials serve as the foundation for Mr. Piskorski’s arrest. It would be appropriate to address these questions to the Internal Security Agency (ABW). As a Sejm Deputy and citizen of Poland, I trust the agency’s current leadership completely. I expect that the case will be sent to court in the near future. And then we will know more, if, of course, the case files and hearing itself are not kept secret.
Intelligence activities are secret because foreign intelligence officers’ contacts with our citizens are also conducted indirectly. These so-called agents of influence are a great threat for every state, and they can exist in every legally operating party.
Bożena Henczyca, Sejm Deputy (Civic Platform)
I think yes. Overall, the ruling party wants to fully weaken the opposition in all aspects so as to give society a clear signal: the opposition is made up of thieves, traitors and, of course, spies. They are trying to prove to the public that they were right so that independently minded people will reject the opposition.
Sylwester Chruszcz, Sejm Deputy (Kukiz’15)
All serious commentators are waiting for the specific charges to emerge. Mateusz Piskorski has already been formally charged with spying for Russia. In such a case, I would like to get details because it is difficult to formulate one’s position not yet knowing what the situation is. Essentially, today it is possible to accuse anyone and everyone financed through various international funding sources. If we want to approach this seriously, then we need to get acquainted with the details of the case. We don’t know if these actions (charges and arrest – Ed.) were justified or not.
Agnieszka Góralczyk, Head of the Warsaw Branch of the Party (Modern)
I think that this type of situation can occur in the future for the reason that the people currently answering for our state have already used such methods in the past and are not the sort of politicians who would have changed their views.
Ryszard Galla, Sejm Deputy (German Minority)
It is difficult to say that the case, which is of international significance, has no political subtext. However, would I go so far as to speculate on the theme of whether this (Mr. Piskorski’s arrest on charges of espionage – Ed.) is a test of public opinion? I think every mature Polish politician knows what society’s reaction is to the actions of Putin or Russia.
I suspect that there were certain premises or reasons for Mateusz Piskorski’s detention. But did they maybe go too far since Change is, after all, still a political party? It is hard for me to assess. But I am an optimist. I believe that the services are doing their job based on substantial premises and not on political considerations.
Janusz Sanocki, Independent Sejm Deputy
I cannot say whether the situation was a justified action or not because, for obvious reasons, I don’t know the situation behind the scenes or the materials the ABW and Prosecutors Office are relying upon. But I am attentively following the situation and, however you look at it, it does not appear Mr. Piskorski was engaged in any intelligence gathering activity. It surprises me. Why would Russia need a spy conducting openly pro-Russian activities. I hope that the current authorities will give an explanation for their actions. But I can not imagine that all this stems from solely political motives. Really, Mateusz Piskorski is a non-parliamentary politician with little support, and he does not have much political weight.
Krzysztof Bosak, Party Co-Chairman (National Movement)
I hope that this is an isolated incident and the intelligence services were gathering material on and observing Mr. Mateusz Piskorski going outside the bounds established in Poland for international cooperation for a long time – and that that is why he was arrested. Similar actions [by the intelligence services] will not be directed against others, especially not against National Movement, because we do not support the sorts of international ties that Mr. Piskorski did. Also, we do not use any foreign sources of financing.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Party Leader (KORWIN)
It is difficult to say. The PiS’s policy reminds one of the time of [Władysław] Gomułka (a party and state figure during the time of the Polish People’s Republic) in 1956-1968. So, light political persecutions are possible. Today’s prisons are, verily, a lot more comfortable than in those times. I regard Mateusz Piskorski’s arrest as a probe [of public opinion]. If people do not react, then [the authorities] can try with different politicians, for example, with us. Only here we have the power of the internet behind us.
Dawid Kotlarek, Co-Chairman of the Lubusz Branch of the Party (Together)
I do not know the circumstances under which this all took place (Piskorski’s arrest –
Ed.) Of course this sets a precedent, and we have people starting to worry. But if one does not break the law, the hope remains that it will not get to the point where there are new such situations.
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