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Poland News Update (April 4, 2024)

Compiled by Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

Poland scrambles aircraft in response to Putin’s Holy Week attacks
Although Holy Week is a sacred period for Christians worldwide, including in Eastern Orthodox Russia, dictator Putin had no compunction about unleashing destructive aerial attacks on Ukraine on Good Friday and Easter. Since some struck close to the Polish border, Poland and its allies stationed there once again scrambled (sent aloft) fighter jets and put its air-defense systems on alert. Although Ukrainian air defenses shot down most of the drones and missiles, a few did hit their mark and the falling debris can also kill, maim and destroy.

Belarusian strongman threatens attack on Poland and Lithuania
Self-proclaimed Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka has threatened a possible attack on the Suwałki Gap – a strategic strip of land that connects Poland with the Baltic States and separates the territory of the Kaliningrad exclave from Russia proper. The dictator was reported discussing plans to seize parts of Lithuania and Poland with the chief of Belarus’ NW Command, Aliaksandr Naumenko. The commander assured him that his troops have been trained and instructed for such an operation. The Belarusian strongman was widely believed to have received his threat-mongering orders from the Kremlin to stoke tensions along NATO’s eastern flank.

Polish PM Tusk announces advent of “pre-war era”
Poland’s liberal-left Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently warned of a new “pre-war era” as Russia continued its merciless aggression against Ukraine. Writing in English on social media, Tusk wrote. “I know it sounds devastating, especially for the younger generation, but we have to get used to the fact that a new era has begun: the pre-war era. I’m not exaggerating; it’s becoming clearer every day.” He added: “If Kyiv loses, no-one in Europe will feel safe.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended European leaders’ sense of unshakable post-war peace, prompting many countries to gear up defense production to supply both Kyiv and their own military.

Polish defense minister suggests “direct-threat economy”
French President Emmanuel Macron has indicated a possible switch to a war economy meaning fewer consumer goods and more military hardware. Similar views have been heard in other countries as well.“I believe we should shift to what I’d describe as a direct-threat economy as the acceleration and expansion of production,” Poland’s Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz was recently quoted as saying. Later this year, Poland plans legislation to regulate long-neglected civil defense informing the citizenry of how to react to war. Existing bomb shelters could accommodate a mere 1.5 million people in this country of over 38 million.

Moscow preparing for war with NATO — military chief warns
General Wiesław Kukuła, Chief of the Polish Army’s General Staff, recently called attention to the growing threat posed by Putin’s Russia. Addressing a conference sponsored by the Kazimierz Pułaski was undertaking in anticipation of potential hostilities with NATO. “We clearly see the changes taking place in Russia and from them we draw our conclusions,” Kukuła added. Similar views are now being expressed by many Western government and military leaders.

Russian cruise missile violates Polish border
During Russia’s recent early-morning missile and drone attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as well as the Lviv region near the Polish border, one stray missile violated Polish air space. Polish radar immediately detected the incursion and fighter jets were scrambled to check, but the missile spent only 39 seconds over Poland before returning. Warsaw has lodged a formal protest over the incident to Moscow. It wasn’t immediately clear whether this was a true error or an attempt to check Poland’s reaction.

Pole among aid workers killed in Israeli air strike in Gaza
Seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen charity have been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.  Amongst them was a Pole identified as Damian Soból, 37, from the SE Polish city of Przemyśl. The remaining aid workers were from the UK, Australia and Palestine plus one with dual US and Canadian citizenship. The victims were traveling in a clearly marked humanitarian convoy bringing food to starving Palestinians in Gaza.. The attack has triggered international outrage.

Polish PM hits out at Israel’s Netanyahu over aid-worker deaths
Polish PM Donald Tusk has responded to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, following a deadly Israeli bombing on aid workers in Gaza.  Netanyahu failed to apologize, only saying the attack was “unintentional” and adding that “such things happen during a war.”  Tusk wrote on social media: “The vast majority of Poles showed full solidarity with Israel after the Hamas attack. Today you are putting that solidarity to a really hard test.” The deadly attack sparked a huge backlash from world leaders and inflamed concerns over Israel’s war tactics.

Congress approves selling Poland some 2,000 advanced missiles
The US Congress has approved a deal to sell Poland advanced missile systems for $1.7 billion. The package comprises nearly 2,000 long-, medium- and short-range missiles. “This is great news for our military and will significantly enhance our defense and deterrent potential,” remarked Polish Defense Minister Kosiniak-Kamysz.

Government wants to oust central bank head over L&J links
Poland’s ruling coalition government wants to put Adam Glapiński, the head of the National Bank of Poland, before the State Tribunal, the equivalent of impeachment. Glapiński has shepherded the bank though economic crises and the pandemic, enlarged Poland’s gold stockpile and brought runaway inflation down to below 2%. His detractors, however, resent his alleged close ties to the formerly ruling Law&Justice administration. His term in office. which runs to 2028, is constitutionally independent of parliament.

Polish Farmers escalate protest, reject EU concessions
Polish farmers blocking roads with their tractors, plan to escalate their protest after rejecting European Commission concessions. The EU has eased “green deal” restrictions including fallow-land and crop-rotation obligations but the protesters say that is not enough. They want the EU’s flagship “Green Deal” environmental regulations scrapped entirely. They also demand unrestricted livestock raising and a ban on cheap Ukrainian food imports. “Instead of blocking roads we now plan to visit government officials with loads of manure,” one farmer told reporters.

Tusk wants to circumvent president’s “day-after” veto
Polish PM Donald Tusk has announced his “Plan B” to circumvent President Andrzej Duda’s veto of a bill allowing over-the-counter sales of an anti-pregnancy pill to 15-year-olds without a prescription. The existing Pharmacy Act contains a clause enabling a pharmacist to write a prescription and dispense the prescribed medication.  However lacking full legislative power due to the veto threat, Tusk’s coalition could only pass an ordinance not requiring presidential approval. It would effectively amount to a recommendation not binding on dissenting pharmacists.

Former justice officials investigated over alleged misuse of funds
Seven former officials of the Justice Ministry have been indicted over alleged misuse of funds following raids and searches of multiple homes across Poland, Four of them, including a Catholic priest, have been placed under pre-trial arrest. They have been charged with mismanaging a Justice Fund, meant to aid crime victims and readjusting ex-convicts The priest, Father Michał Olszewski, allegedly received a subsidy of 89 million złotys (about $25 million) with which he created an impressive multi-story complex to shelter such victims. The government claims former Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro was not at liberty to provide such an endowment.

Poles divided over Education Ministers homework ban — survey
A slim majority of Poles (54.2%) oppose the discontinuation of traditional homework introduced by the new education minister, left-leaning feminist Barbara Nowacka, whilst 49% welcome the change. As of April 2024, homework will be entirely done away with in grades 1-3, while in grades 4-8 it will be optional and not graded. It goes without saying that school children overwhelmingly back the “reform,” part of the left’s down-dumbing agenda.

Poland leads amongst countries joining the EU since 2004
Poland has developed the most of the Central-East European countries that have joined the EU since 2004. a new report by the Pekao Bank has shown.  Over that period, its economy has also grown the third fastest among of all the bloc’s 27 members. Poland’s real Gross Domestic Product, which gauges economic output, doubled between 2004 and 2022. That was more than any of the region’s other nations.  Romania recorded the second-strongest growth, of 80%, whereas Slovakia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic saw growth of 78%, 74%, and 51%, respectively. Over the same period, the EU’s total growth rate averaged  only 27%.

Łódź plans Poland’s first airport solar farm
The central city of Łódź has unveiled plans for its airport to become the first in Poland to host a solar farm. The facility will both power the airport itself as well as sell electricity commercially. “The airport site is unique, with very good sunlight, which will make for exceptional efficiency,” Łódź Deputy Mayor Adam Pustelnik, told reporters. “Such investments pay off very quickly and guarantee independence: from supply fluctuations and other external factors.”

Christmas fundraiser raises $70 million for post-Covid treatment
The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity fundraiser raised at least $70 million on one Sunday last January. The money will go towards treatment of post-pandemic lung disorders. Conservative Poles take exception to Owsiak’s rock festivals where kids as young as 13 are exposed to drugs, alcohol and premature campground sex. The annual event is the brainchild of communist-era DJ Jerzy Owsiak who cleverly does not take a cut of the proceeds. Instead, he pays his wife’s private company for the millions of paper hearts given to donors.

“Red Poppies” – the first Polish film about about Monte Casino
The feature film “Czerwone maki” (“Red Poppies”) went on release recently to mark the 80th anniversary of the iconic Battle of Monte Cassino. Directed by Krzysztof Łukaszewicz, it depicts the fiercest and bloodiest land battle of World War II. Allied troops from Britain, Canada, the US, New Zealand, France and its colonies had failed to dislodge the Germans entrenched round the hill-top monastery  Despite huge losses, it was the Polish Second Corps under General Władysław Anders that finally captured the Nazi stronghold which had blocked the Allies’ march on Rome.

Polish teens rank low in self-perception of health and satisfaction
Polish teenagers occupy the penultimate position in a recent rerport titled Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-being. Taking part were more than 27,000 pupils form 45 countries. Polish adolescents display the most negativity in how they perceive their own bodies and assess their health. The results show that the self-perception and satisfaction of young Poles gets worse with age, and girls are more self-critical than boys.

Fans euphoric as national squad qualifies for Euro Cup finals
It was Poland’s very last chance to make it to this year’s Euro Cup finals hosted by Germany when they traveled to Cardiff to meet Wales in the playoffs. But the crucial match ended in a nil-all draw, and the extra time also failed to produce a single goal. In the penalty shoot-out that followed, Polish footballers produced five perfect spot-kicks, whilst Wales scored only four. Their fifth attempt was successfully deflected by Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny who saved the day for Poland with a final score of 5-4. Szczęsny was mobbed by his ecstatic team-mates, as vodka flowed freely at celebrations across Poland.

“Biała odwaga”— new movie about pro-Nazi highlanders
Marcin Koszałka’s controversial film „Biała odwaga” (“White Courage”) focuses on a little-known World War II episode exposing one of the Nazis’ cockeyed racial theories. They announced that the highlanders of southern Poland (Górale) were not “subhuman” Poles but “Goralenvolk,” members of an ancient, Old Germanic race. Those that collaborated were spared the ordeal foisted on the rest of Poland. The protagonist, Jędrek Zawrat, feigns collaboration in order to win back his lady love and save the highlander community. Watch the trailer on YouTube: Biała Odwaga zwiastun.

200-year-old Polish beech named European Tree of the Year
At a ceremony in the European Parliament, an unusually gnarled 200-year-old beech tree in SW Poland has been declared the 2024 European Tree of the Year,  It was the third year in a row and fourth time overall that a Polish tree won the contest. This year’s winner is located at Arboretum Wojsławice in Dolnośląskie voivodeship. It was planted at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries when the region was part of the Kingdom of Prussia.