Poland hit by res­ig­na­tions over eaves­drop­ping

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY STANISLAW WASZAK

Three Pol­ish gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and the speaker of par­lia­ment re­signed Wed­nes­day over a high pro­file eaves­drop­ping scan­dal just four months ahead of a gen­eral elec­tion that polls show could usher the con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion into power.

Cen­trist Prime Min­is­ter Ewa Kopacz an­nounced that Par­lia­men­tary Speaker Ra­doslaw Siko­rski and the min­is­ters of the trea­sury, health and sports had re­signed as her un­pop­u­lar gov­ern­ment strug­gles to hold onto power.

Pol­ish me­dia on Tues­day was awash with news of the pub­li­ca­tion on the In­ter­net of some 2,500 pages of leaked tran­scripts from a gov­ern­ment eaves­drop­ping scan­dal that rocked Poland in June last year.

The tran­scripts are ev­i­dence in an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Pol­ish jus­tice au­thor­i­ties.

Last June, the Pol­ish news mag­a­zine Wprost re­leased a se­cret record­ing of the cen­tral bank chief pur­port­edly cut­ting a deal with the then in­te­rior min­is­ter to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic pol­icy if the fi­nance min­is­ter quit.

The mag­a­zine later re­leased tran­scripts of other wire­tapped con­ver­sa­tions, in­clud­ing one in which then for­eign min­is­ter Siko­rski al­legedly calls Poland’s U. S. ties “bull­shit” and blasts Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron as “in­com­pe­tent on EU af­fairs.”

The pri­vate ex­changes al­legedly took place at a num­ber of swish War­saw restau­rants over a pe­riod of sev­eral months.

The bug­ging af­fair re­sulted in charges against sev­eral peo­ple, in­clud­ing a restau­rant manager and wait­ers — prompt­ing some to la­bel the af­fair “Waiter­gate” on so­cial me­dia.

Zbig­niew Stonoga, the blog­ger re­spon­si­ble for the leaked files, was ques­tioned by po­lice on Tues­day. He claims to have found pho­to­copies of the tran­scripts on a Chi­nese In­ter­net server.

Stonoga was re­leased from cus­tody af­ter be­ing charged with pub­lish­ing the doc­u­ments re­garded as ev­i­dence in an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If found guilty, he could be spend up to two years be­hind bars.

Cam­paign Trail

The pop­u­lar­ity of Prime Min­is­ter Ewa Kopacz’s cen­trist Civic Plat­form (PO) gov­ern­ment is wan­ing.

The party scored a sec­ond term in of­fice with a Novem­ber 2011 land­slide, but slower eco­nomic growth and per­sis­tent un­em­ploy­ment have since taken a toll on public sup­port.

Mean­while, the con­ser­va­tive Law and Jus­tice (PiS) op­po­si­tion party has gained ground in opin­ion polls, with some in­di­cat­ing it could win the au­tumn gen­eral elec­tion.

PiS can­di­date An­drzej Duda scored a sur­prise victory in last month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, edg­ing out PO ally Pres­i­dent Bro­nis­law Ko­morowski.

Siko­rski said Wed­nes­day he de­cided to quit as speaker — a po­si­tion sec­ond only to the pres­i­dent — for the good of the PO ahead of vot­ing day.

Kopacz made it clear Wed­nes­day that she in­tended to purge her gov­ern­ment of any­one tainted by the eaves­drop­ping af­fair.

The one-time emer­gency room physi­cian and for­mer health min­is­ter also said she wanted Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral An­drzej Seremet to step down.

His staff were re­spon­si­ble for the files that were leaked onto the In­ter­net.

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