Skip to comments.Poland's new 'lustration' law has some journalists nervous
Posted on 03/12/2007 11:02:59 AM PDT by JoAnka
Journalists should come clean about their past and admit if they had been recruited by communist era secret services, says the new Polish vetting law. This has some journalist react nervously and resort to a boycott.
The new vetting, or "lustration" law, that requires journalists to publish statements pertaining to their possible past collaboration with communist era secret services, has met with vehement protests from some journalists, especially those connected with circles traditionally opposed to the process of clearing Poland's painful legacy of the past.
A group of journalists, most notably from Poland's liberal and traditionally anti-lustration daily Gazeta Wyborcza and its satellites, have announced their intention to boycott the new law that will require them to testify in writing whether they had been recruited by the communist intelligence, back in the times prior Poland's transformation into a democracy.
In an attempt to stop the implementation of the vetting regulations, Gazeta Wyborcza journalists were instructed on how to join the boycott. This was a way of exerting pressure to accept the anti-lustration line of the paper, says Piotr Pałka of the Rzeczpospolita daily, who investigated the situation at Gazeta Wyborcza:
'We found out about an inside instruction that the management of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily sent to all of its journalists. In the instruction, Gazeta Wyborcza gave precise information on how to evade the new regulations on the vetting, or "lustration" process of journalists, so, in other words, how to conceal their possible past involvement with the communist intelligence.'
This is not the first time that Gazeta Wyborcza has tried to impose its anti-lustration stand on its employees, as it is known for at least one striking example of hampering independent journalism in this area, continues Piotr Pałka of the Rzeczpospolita daily.
'This was the reason, why one of its major journalist, Roman Graczyk, left the paper - because he was pressured into accepting the anti-lustration postition of the newspaper, with which he disagreed. In order to retain his independence, he left Gazeta Wyborcza.'
In an interview for the Dziennik daily, Poland's respected historian of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and an employee of Poland's Institute of National Remembrance, set up to examine Poland's communist past, Antoni Dudek, has said that the two groups that were of greatest importance and use to the communist regime were priests and journalists.
While the vetting process in the Church is well underway, there is a confusion in journalist circles, with some people calling for a boycott of the procedure. At the same time, communist era documents show that many of the former agents are now in their 40s and active in their professions, influencing public opinion on a national and international scale. They may resort to supporting the boycott in the hope that their shameful past is not revealed, says Antoni Dudek:
'Some of them, those with a personal history of collaboration with the communist regime, see this boycott as a chance to avoid revealing their past.'
Other post-communist countries, such as Romania, understand the urgency of clearing the media of unclear connections with the former regime. Stejarel Olaru, national security advisor to the Prime Minister of Romania:
'It is extremely important to know as much as possible about journalists who are very much involved in public debates in our post-communist societies. We really need to know what they did prior to the fall of communism. First of all, it is important to know about journalists, because they still work in today's media so their opinion is still very important. If prior to 1989 they were forced to collaborate with the communist regime, we really need to know if this process continues even today, with the new secret services.'
Over the past months it has come to light that two important persons at Poland's major commercial TV channels, Milan Subotic of TVN and Zygmunt Solorz of Polsat, had in the past been agents of the communist secret services. Other esteemed liberal and left-wing opinion journalists, such as Daniel Passent of the liberal POLITYKA weekly and a leftist commentator and journalist Krzysztof Teodor Toeplitz were also revealed to have spied for communists.
You might want to ping that, thanks.
c) pictures drawn by drunk, horny guys
d) a journalism term
Good for Poland! Those who believe communism simply rolled over and died are fooling themselves. Unlike the countries of west europe, Poland is realistic about this.
We need this law here for NY and LA Times, among others.
The soviet union fell 18 years ago. Communisms adherents continue on.
Gazeta Wyborcza is a rag sort of like the NYT. They're in panic over this.
Yeah, he does hit the nail on the head, doesn't he? :)
...and now you start to roll up the communist past...
...isn't that not a littlebit aloof from the original crime?
To me such "accomplishment of history" usually only makes sense if it happens in a close time schedule. Otherwise it will destroy the living of those who changed over the times. For some the famous latin sentence "Non sum, qualis eram" (I am not the one that I used to be) might be true. Therefore you give something up if you open this "box of the pandora". I am aware that the past gouvernments in Poland failed to work up the communist past. Therefore it might be still reasonable to start that late. What is your impression???
We Germans also have our experience with working up the unpleasant past and its also (for sure) unpleasant actors. To tell the truth in advance: We failed to do this in a just way. After the war practially all old nazis got through a ridicolous "Entnazifizierungsverfahren" (a process to strip them from nazism - BuHuHaHa!). I.e. not one of the important nazi judges (and they were horrible) ever got a real punishment. They were taken over by the young Bundesrepublik in the 50ties because we lacked a suitable replacement. Many former anti-Fascist people were confronted with the same nazi judges during the 50ties that once put them into a concentration camp. The CDU and the Adenauer (and following) gouvernments were by large parts formed of former nazis. I do not know if you ever heared names like Globke, Kiesinger or Filbinger. Even the Americans suppressed the past of their rocket-wizards that made the man on the moon possible. Did you know that i.e. Wernher von Braun was a SS-Obersturmbannführer in the KZ-Nordhausen? After the fall of the wall in 1989 this sad part of history repeated itself with our communist actors. Some very few like Mielke or Kessler got a few years in some really quite pleasant prisions and the rest got away with it.
Therefore I am curious if you Poles will make it better than we did. :)
We should have done it 18 years ago, no doubt about that!
But the thing, you see, is that we didn't. Those who negotiatated with the commies in the name of the whole nation made a compromise with them - and let them evade responsibility and retain a lot of power in return for a democracy, that in some respects was a DINO. A policy of a clean break with the past, they called it. 'Forget communist crimes and move on'...
The result was a disaster. The whole of 1990s wasted for Poland - corruption, crime and sucking the soul of out the liberated Poland. Those who had a shameful record of collaboration with communists were still uncloaked - and blackmailed into further involvement with the crimes of post-communists in the 1990s. Journalists, the judiciary, politicians covering up now post-communist crimes, threatened to be revealed as former agents.
Now, if we had put all the documents on the table in 1990s, we would have broken all those filthy connections and could start anew. We didn't, and now the mess is enormous. But I don't have any doubts that it needs to be made up asap. I also want this over and done with.
Yes. Probably you are right. Better late than never.