Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party on May 26 passed a law to probe Russian influence on Poland’s internal security, which the opposition decried as an attempt at eliminating political rivals from running in this autumn’s election.
The law, which still needs signing by President Andrzej Duda, will establish a commission, which will have the power of barring individuals from holding public office for 10 years if the commission determines their decisions were influenced by Russia.
Poland’s biggest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), says that the law will serve to rubber-stamp PiS’ claims that PO’s leader, former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, had acted in Russia’s favour when in power.
"If Donald Tusk has something on his conscience ... he should be afraid," PiS spokesman Rafal Bochenek said, according to Reuters.
“We have a strategy for this commission,” Tusk told reporters in the parliament after the vote.
“Those who voted to breach the constitution today will regret it very, very much,” Tusk added, referring to legal experts’ lambasting the law for being utterly unconstitutional.
Following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in February 2022, political accusations of being Russia’s friends have flown to and fro between PiS and the opposition.
PiS claims that Tusk had allowed Poland to become too dependent on imports of Russian commodities like gas and coal. The opposition says PiS is taking pages from Moscow’s playbook to limit democratic freedoms in Poland.
The commission will investigate the years 2007-2022, the period covering two terms under a PO-led government in 2007-2015. PO lost to PiS in the 2015 election and again in 2019.
A new vote in due in the autumn of 2023 in which PiS is seeking a third straight term in office while Tusk is hoping to lead his party to regain power in a government made up of an array of smaller opposition parties from the centre-right to the left.
The divisive law now awaits the signature of President Duda. The president’s office said that the decision to sign the law, veto it, or send it to the PiS-controlled Constitutional Tribunal, will be imminent. Formally, Duda has 21 days to announce a decision.