Military secret services, or the WSI, that operated in Poland after the fall of communism, largely exceeded their legal objectives and were involved in a number of criminal irregularities, states the long-awaited government report on the activity of the now resolved Polish military secret services.
The communist-rooted military intelligence did not fulfill its regular counter-intelligence duties properly, was involved in economic crime and weapon trading on a large scale, exerted illegitimate influence on media and politics in democratic Poland, concludes the report. Journalist Krzysztof Leski:
"This report clearly proves that the WSI, frankly speaking, went wild after the overthrow of Communism in Poland in 1989. And it's not about individual agents, but it seems to be the case about the entire service which, roughly, acted as a state within a state, with one clear objective - to make money in illegal transactions."
One of the striking revelations of the report is also the involvement of Polish military intelligence with the Russian secret services, with some Polish WSI officers having been trained in the Soviet Union. Reportedly, the WSI were also suspiciously lenient towards the activity of Russian intelligence in Poland.
The publication of the report is an element of the current Polish government's policy of clearing the public life of dangerous entanglements with the past. Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyg(B³o:
According to the commission that authored the report, over 2500 agents of the former military secret services infiltrated Polish public life in the 1990s, following the collapse of communism.
In a press conference following the publication of the report, Polish president Lech Kaczynski stressed the clues pointing to military intelligence tampering with the public opinion through the media.
"Placing an agent as a program director of a very influential tv station, or as the deputy head of another also important tv station, or placing someone as a deputy director of the television information agency or the spokesman of public tv are, I think, very effective ways to influence the media message."
The report mentions names of public officials and journalists whose secret cooperation with the military intelligence was in breach of the law. Among those mentioned as responsible for irregularities in this area were Poland's former presidents, famous solidarity leader Lech Walesa and the post-communist Aleksander Kwasniewski.
The report caused uproar and heated discussion, with many of the accused saying they will sue the report authors for libel.
Opposition Civic Platform party leader, Donald Tusk, though critical of the government handling of the whole problem, would like to see the people mentioned in the report put on trial. Publishing a report is not enough, he says.
"I want something much more severe. I would like all the perpetors mentioned in this report to answer for their deeds before court."
"No important documents were destroyed in order to hide traces of any illegal operations. I don't know of any such cases and for sure, while I was in charge, no such situation took place."
According to opinion journalist Jerzy Jachowicz of the "Dziennik" daily, the report comes years too late.
"We wouldn't have those cancerous tumors on the military intelligence, about which we will never know the whole truth, now that many documents have been destroyed. Also, many things were not documented at all, probably also about their involvement with some of the media. If all that had been dealt with 15 years ago, we would have a different situation now."
Report authors say the document is incomplete and will be amended many times before it reaches its final shape. More names and facts on WSI irregularities are expected to surface.Listen to the report:
The Romanian political scene is very tense... With EU membership in its pocket and with pressure from Brussels subsiding, Romania is at a critical moment. The good steps taken so far in giving independence to the judiciary and combating corruption are no longer popular measures among the majority of Romania's politicians. Iulian Muresan reports.
It's a fact of life... and death. Service in the military always carries the risk of dying in battle. But recruits in the Russian army face an additional risk. They stand a chance of dying at the hands of older conscripts. Abusive treatment of army recruits in Russia is widespread - with hazing blamed for hundreds of suicides and... thousands of desertions each year. From Moscow, Charles Maynes offers this look at draft dodging Russian style.
The French presidential elections are two months away, but newspapers and magazines are already trying to say who will win…. Opinion polls abound- almost one a day, pitting the front runners, Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royale against others who are not even on the ballot yet. The official list of candidates won't be firmed up until the end of March. Sarah Elzas looks at the phenomenon of opinion polls that appear constantly on the front pages of French newspapers and magazines.
It may be fairly well-known that the Swedish language thrives in neighbouring country, Finland, where more than 5 per cent of the population speaks it as their mother tongue. But while they are really only a "linguistic" minority, efforts are being stepped up to recognise people with a Swedish background in another nearby nation....Estonia. It too has a long common history with Sweden, and now a Cultural Council's been set up there to make full use of the "Estonian-Swedes" cultural autonomy rights. Tom McAlinden has more...
The internet is such a huge part of our lives it's hard to imagine a time before it existed. But it is of course a relatively new phenomenon. In Prague this month they are marking the 15th anniversary of the day the Czechs officially hooked up to the net - few would have imagined in 1992 just how big a step they were taking. The man who connected the then Czechoslovakia to the web was Jan Gruntorad. He spoke to Radio Prague's Dita Asiedu.
This webpage receives support from the European Union