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Wałęsa clashes with Polish president over informant claims

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 24.02.2016 09:09
Former Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa has rejected President of Poland Andrzej Duda's statement that he should have admitted in the 1990s his alleged collaboration with communist security services.
Photo: Wikimedia CommonsPhoto: Wikimedia Commons

I have nothing to admit to,” former Polish president Wałęsa wrote on his blog while on a visit to the United States.

From what I understand, it is you that has something to admit to,” he added, apparently alluding to President Duda's role in an ongoing controversy over the appointment of judges to Poland's Constitutional Court.

Documents seized from a former communist interior minister's widow last week revived allegations that Wałęsa was an informant for the security services from 1970 to 1976, prior to the creation of the Solidarity trade union in 1980.

I am sorry that Mr. President Lech Wałęsa was not able to bring himself to make a gesture to Poles at the right time,” Duda said in an interview with Polish news source wp.pl, “just to speak out and tell the truth.”

I can express my personal sadness as a person who in the past definitely supported Lech Walesa and who respects Lech Wałęsa as a president, Duda continued.

Wałęsa has insisted on his blog in recent days that he was never a paid informant of the security services, although he acknowledged that he had made an unspecified “mistake” during run-ins with the authorities.

Since the fall of communism in 1989, Wałęsa has given conflicting statements on the allegations.

It was all a clever game,” he told UK newspaper The Guardian in 2011 on his dealings with the security services.

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

Not for a moment was I on the other side.

I didn't know I was in a position to refuse to sign [the police documents]. I didn't know the legal position. They said it was minutes, some kind of protocol.”

Supporters of Wałęsa in Poland typically argue that even if he was an informant during the mid-1970s, his later achievements as the leader of Solidarity outweigh any such stain on his past. His detractors, principally on the political right, invariably claim that Wałęsa's past tainted his role as president of Poland from 1990 to 1995. (nh/pk)

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