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Debate over Wałęsa spy claims given green light

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 15.01.2016 13:10
Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) has accepted former president Lech Wałęsa's proposal to host a debate over claims he was an informer for the secret police in the early 1970s.
Lech Wałęsa (L). Photo: wikimedia commons/R. LotysLech Wałęsa (L). Photo: wikimedia commons/R. Lotys

Allegations that Wałęsa collaborated with the communist security services (SB) under the pseudonym of 'Bolek' have plagued the erstwhile leader of the Solidarity trade union for many years.

He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Wałęsa approached IPN's Gdańsk branch on 8 January, proposing that he would take part in a recorded debate. He stressed that his most vehement critics from the worlds of journalism and academia would be welcome.

IPN has announced on its official website that it is “willing to organise such a debate” and that details of the initiative will be revealed over the coming days.

Wałęsa's alleged cooperation with the SB followed the repression of strikes in Gdańsk and its environs in 1970, which he had taken part in. He supposedly broke off ties with the SB several years before the landmark 1980 strike at the Gdańsk Shipyard, a protest that led to the birth of the Solidarity trade union and his meteoric rise to international fame.

Although he has strenuously denied the accuations in Poland, in 2011 he told the UK's Guardian newspaper that he had played “a game” with the secret services.

“It was all a clever game,” he told the daily.

“It was important to play it to give the impression I was weak, so as not to be eliminated.

“Not for a moment was I on the other side,” he insisted.


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