Poland’s Duda backtracks on controversial Russian influence law after backlash

Poland’s Duda backtracks on controversial Russian influence law after backlash
Опубликовано: Friday, 02 June 2023 12:47

Amendments proposed by Polish president would remove a controversial public office ban from the law.

BRUSSELS — Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Friday he had amended a controversial law aimed at investigating Russian influence in Polish politics, days after the EU and the U.S. expressed concerns that the bill could be used to intimidate political rivals ahead of an upcoming election.

Duda said he had removed the use of sanctions for people found guilty of acting under the influence of the Kremlin — including banning them from public office — handed down by an ad hoc commission.

The commission would still, however, prepare a negative opinion regarding a person’s ability to hold a public position.

“I propose that instead they [the sanctions] should be replaced by a statement by the commission that a person who has been found to have acted under Russian influence does not provide a guarantee that they will properly carry out their activities in the public interest,” the Polish president said in a statement.

The initial bill, including the ban on running for public office, was passed by a narrow margin last Friday, after a heated debate as the Polish opposition argued the proposed sanctions could be used to remove its leader, Donald Tusk, from politics.

The country is gearing up for what is set to be a close election at the end of the year. According to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls, Tusk’s Civic Coalition is currently trailing the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.


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For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

Both the U.S. and the EU expressed concerns over the law earlier this week, in a rare joint move amid Brussels’ long-standing battle with Warsaw over rule of law issues.

“I can assure you that we will not hesitate to take immediate action as necessary when we see that there is space and need for such action,” Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Duda’s proposed amendments now have to be adopted by parliament.

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