On Wednesday, officers of the Internal Security Agency detained Bartosz Kramek, a social activist and husband of Lyudmyla Kozlovska – the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation, who was expelled from Poland in 2018. He is to face charges of false statements regarding the provision of consulting services in the amount of PLN 5.3 million. In connection with Kramek’s detention, the Open Dialogue Foundation issued a statement demanding his immediate release.
- The fight between the Polish state and Kozlovska and Kramek has been going on since 2017, when Kramek published the manifesto “Let the State Come to a Stop: Let’s Shut Down the Government!” on Facebook.
- “PiS has been trying to separate us since 2018. Now, by arresting Bartek, they know that I won’t be able to be there to defend him. This is what authoritarian dictators do,” comments Kozlovska on the detention of her husband.
- “The use of arrest against Bartosz Kramek is another form of pressure calculated to have a chilling effect on civil society,” reads the message published by the Open Dialogue Foundation.
“The accusations levelled at Bartosz Kramek and the Foundation are absurd, groundless and constitute a manifestation of the political struggle against non-governmental organisations that are inconvenient for the authorities,” reads the message.
According to information posted on the website of the Open Dialogue Foundation, Bartosz Kramek’s defence counsel did not meet with him until Tuesday evening. We also read that the Head of the Open Dialogue Foundation Board refused to give explanations and was detained. It is very likely that the prosecution will seek a pre-trial detention measure against Kramek for a period of three months.
“Since 2017, despite strenuous attempts, the United Right government has been unable to prove many of the alleged crimes (ranging from incorrect tax return clearance to organising a coup d’état) stated in numerous proceedings against the Foundation or individuals associated with it,” we read.
According to members of the Open Dialogue Foundation, the detention of the Head of the Foundation Board is “unfounded and illegal”.
ODF: the Polish authorities have sought legal assistance from the Russian authorities in the case.
The members of the Foundation claim that Bartosz Kramek’s behaviour did not give the slightest reason to assume that he intended to go into hiding. As they say, since the beginning of 2021, there has not been a month in which he has not spent at least a week in Poland. They also point out that he regularly took part in anti-government protests and appeared at numerous court hearings and hearings concerning the ODF, including during the lockdown period.
“The actions of the United Right’s government against the ODF recall the modus operandi of autocratic systems such as in Belarus, Russia or Kazakhstan, where, since its establishment, the ODF has been active in the field of human rights and democracy. This model seeks to intimidate critics of power, destroy their reputation and paralyse their activity while maintaining the appearance of legality,” the communiqué reads.
As the ODF’s statement says, the Polish authorities have sought legal assistance from the Russian authorities in this case. “Neither the ODF nor the company headed by Bartosz Kramek has conducted any business in Russia. Our only activity in this country is the consistent defence of human rights – one of the Foundation’s core activities,” they point out.
The Foundation has announced that it will give a detailed statement, with reference to the specific allegations of the prosecution, once they have access to the case file. They also added that so far they have been relying only on communications from the prosecution and media reports.