Walesa to fight spying charge

Walesa to fight spying charge

Lech Walesa during the strike at the Lenin Shipyard in 1980. Source: Wikimedia

Poland’s anti-communist legend Lech Walesa has pledged to fight in court against charges that he collaborated with the Soviet secret services.

Warsaw’s state history institute said it believed documents from a widow of a communist interior minister suggesting Walesa had been a communist informant in the 1970s were genuine. “The personal file contains an envelope and in it there is a manually written commitment to collaborate with the secret service signed: Lech Walesa ‘Bolek’,” an institute spokesman said.

Walesa, 72, the leader of the iconic Solidarity union movement that toppled the communist regime in Poland, immediately announced that he signed no such commitment and suggested it was forged. “I will prove it in court,” he blogged. Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said this week: “Walesa has an agent’s past, of course he does. For the last 27 years I not only suspected this but was almost sure”.

Walesa has acknowledged that he signed a commitment to inform for the authorities but claimed he did not act on it. A special court ruled in 2000 that it found no proof of collaboration.

Walesa two months ago accused the conservative, nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) of undermining Polish democracy since it won power in October. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a former Solidarity leader but he has a troubled relationship with Walesa. In 1990, just before Walesa was elected president, he dismissed Jaroslaw and his late twin brother, Lech, from his office. Jaroslaw Kaczynski has since accused Walesa of informing for the communists.

In December the Nobel Peace Prize winner called for early elections to counter the threat to democracy posed by the nationalist PiS. Walesa was popularly regarded as a failure as president during his single term from 1990 to 1995.

In January, the EU opened an inquiry into whether the PiS had breached EU standards by restricting the constitutional court and media. Earlier this month legislation was passed to increase the state surveillance powers.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and former Solidarity activist, said he was surprised the issue was controversial, as Walesa “had never hidden that in the 1970s he had numerous problems and interactions with the former regime”. “In my perspective the most important thing is not to break Polish interest on the international scene [as] the legend of Solidarity has been always treated here as a trade mark,” said Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

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