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Hundreds protest in Poland in opposition to media reform


Supporters of the Law and Justice (PiS) party protest in Warsaw

Supporters of the Regulation and Justice (PiS) celebration collect in protest in opposition to state media overhaul and arrest of former inside minister and his deputy in Warsaw, January 11, 2024. Kuba Atys/Agencja Wyborcza.pl/through REUTERS

WARSAW — Hundreds of opposition supporters gathered exterior Poland’s parliament on Thursday to protest in opposition to the new authorities’s modifications to state media and the imprisonment of two former ministers convicted of abuse of energy.

The march displays mounting tensions within the nation as the brand new pro-European Union coalition authorities led by Donald Tusk tries to undo the insurance policies of the earlier nationalist Regulation and Justice (PiS) celebration administration.

READ: Warsaw ‘greatest’ rally attracts ‘1,000,000’ anti-gov’t protesters

It additionally got here as President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, stated on Thursday he had began proceedings to pardon the 2 ministers within the final authorities who had been jailed this week for abuse of energy, escalating his stand-off with the brand new authorities.

“We have now to win this nice battle for a sovereign, impartial Poland,” PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski informed the group.

A sea of crimson and white Polish flags stretched again from the parliament, interspersed with placards with slogans corresponding to “Tusk=fifth column” and “We survived the Russians, we’ll survive Tusk”. Some chanted Duda’s identify and “We are going to win!”

State-run information company PAP cited Warsaw metropolis corridor as placing the variety of folks within the crowd at round 35,000, whereas a PiS spokesman put the determine at virtually 200,000.

Protesters listened to speeches from PiS lawmakers earlier than they began their march to the workplaces of state TV. The brand new authorities has modified the management of state media in what it says is a bid to revive stability to shops that had grow to be platforms for PiS propaganda through the celebration’s eight-year rule.

Information channel TVP Data, which had subjected former EU Council President Tusk to incessant assaults since his return to home politics in 2021, was taken off air earlier than returning in a a lot altered format.

“How can folks reduce off the TV sign, everybody has the correct to decide on what they need,” stated Ela, 60, who declined to provide her full identify. “Furthermore, folks had been arrested… I’m frightened of what’s occurring, that’s why I got here right here.”

Supporters of the Law and Justice (PiS) party protest in Warsaw

A girl shouts slogans as supporters of the Regulation and Justice (PiS) celebration collect in protest in opposition to state media overhaul and arrest of former inside minister and his deputy in Warsaw, January 11, 2024. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

Pardon

The previous PiS authorities launched reforms that critics say undermined the independence of the courts and threw the judicial system into disarray.

Tusk’s new authorities is making an attempt to undo these reforms to unblock billions in funds that the European Union froze in response to the final authorities’s insurance policies.

The announcement by Duda that he would pardon the 2 ex-ministers was the most recent twist in a saga that has left the nation in political turmoil since energy handed to Tusk’s coalition after October’s election.

Former Inside Minister Mariusz Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik had been arrested on Tuesday in a high-profile raid on the presidential palace and brought to jail.

After the arrests, Duda stated he was outraged and “wouldn’t relaxation” till Kaminski and Wasik had been freed.

“I made a decision to provoke pardon proceedings,” the president informed a press convention on Thursday. He stated he was making use of to the prosecutor basic to droop the boys’s sentences.

The authorized entanglements surrounding Kaminski and Wasik’s case laid naked what some legal professionals say is chaos within the judicial system, with parallel buildings of judges appointed below what critics say was a politicised system below PiS and people appointed earlier.

It’s the second time Duda had moved to pardon the pair over the identical case.

Kaminski and Wasik had been first convicted of abuse of energy in 2015 for permitting brokers below the previous’s command to make use of entrapment in an investigation. They denied wrongdoing and had been pardoned by Duda, permitting them to take up their authorities posts.

Final 12 months, after Tusk got here to energy, the Supreme Courtroom stated the case must be reopened and Kaminski and Wasik had been sentenced by a decrease court docket in December to 2 years in jail.



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They weren’t instantly despatched to jail as a authorized dispute performed out over whether or not they had misplaced their immunity to prosecution as members of parliament.



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