Anti-government demonstrations across Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
Thousands took to the streets across Poland on Saturday in protest at a new media law that critics claim will muzzle the country’s public broadcasters.
Demonstrators outside the TVP building in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
The demonstrations are a response to legislation pushed through by Poland’s ruling, conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party that ended the terms of management and supervisory board members of public broadcasters TVP and Polish Radio.
The protests, organised by the recently created Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD), included a demonstration outside the TVP television station headquarters in Warsaw.
In front of the building, demonstrators read out a letter from Mateusz Kijowski, head of the Committee, saying, “In no other EU country is the head of public media appointed by a [government] minister. This best shows how we are departing from democratic standards.”
In the central city of Łódź, crowds carrying the Polish red and white national flag and the EU flag sang Poland’s national anthem.
The country's new media law was signed by President Andrzej Duda on Thursday and came into force a day later.
Amid concern over the future of the country’s state broadcasters, Deputy Culture Minister Jacek Kurski, a former Law and Justice MP who was Friday appointed the new head of TVP, insisted that he aims to protect “the independence of public television from the dangers of the world of politics.”
Marches under the slogan "Free Media" were being held Saturday in a number of Polish cities, including Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław and Kraków. Poles living in London and the Czech capital, Prague, were also expected to protest.
Previous anti-government demonstrations organised by Committee for the Defence of Democracy over two weekends at the end of last year saw tens of thousands turning out across Poland in protest at changes to the judiciary pushed through by Law and Justice, which came to power in October’s general elections. (pk)