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National mourning for General Jaruzelski 'unnecessary'

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 26.05.2014 08:59
A government minister has dismissed calls from the left for a period of national mourning for Poland's last communist leader Gerneral Wojciech Jaruzelski, who died on Sunday aged 90.

General Wojciech Jaruzelski (R) in 2010, with former prime minister Leszek Miller (seated first left) and Lech Walesa. photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski told Polish Radio on Monday that national mourning is “unnecessary” in spite of calls by former communist and leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) Leszek Miller for a period of mouring in Poland.

“I'm against adding an air of sanctity to the memory General Jaruzelski at the moment,” Zdrojewski said.

“However, it is worth remembering the Polish tradition: do not speak ill of the dead," he added.

Jaruzelski, who died on Sunday after a long illness, was widely seen as the architect of the introduction of martial law in 1981 and the repression of the Solidarity movement.

However, his supporters argue that martial law saved Poland from a Soviet invasion and that the subsequent 1989 Round Table talks with Solidarity leaders ushered in a peaceful revolution.

“He was a leader of a political formation that I was in deep opposition to,” Zdrojewski said, adding that the communist party had “significantly limited Poles' liberties.”

Zdrojewski has argued that the correct place for the general's funeral is the Powazki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.

Former prime minister Leszek Miller, who was one of the communist party members who took part in the 1989 Round Table Talks, was forthright in his praise for Jaruzelski.

“A great Pole has left us who was victimised to the end by political hyenas and common twerps,” he wrote on his Twitter profile. (nh/pg)

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