This morning, 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. Kozlovska claims that the arrest is another step in the persecution of her and her husband for their work in favour of democracy and judicial independence in Poland.
- 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.
- In his post, Kramek considered, using the experience of the Ukrainian Maidan as an example, “how to stop the PiS Party’s attack on the rule of law in Poland”.
- “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
“Bartosz K. will face charges of false statements regarding the provision of consulting services by the company in 46 VAT invoices issued to 11 foreign entrepreneurs, for a total amount of approximately PLN 5.3 million, as well as concealing the criminal origin of these funds by transferring them, among other funds, to the Open Dialogue Foundation and other identified entities. The charges include acting with the aim of achieving financial gain,” we were told by Karol Blajerski, spokesman for the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, on whose instructions the agency detained Kramek.
According to the spokesman, Kramek, as president of the company Silk Road, “issued VAT invoices in the period from August 2012 to February 2016 for unspecified services described as ‘consultancy services’, ‘IT services’, ‘VOIP services’.” His contractors included “only entities from so-called tax havens, such as Belize or the Seychelles, or entrepreneurs merely pretending to operate on the economic market and registered in virtual offices. As it has been established, Bartosz K.’s company did not in fact provide services to these contractors nor did it have any economic relations with them.”
“The companies involved in the criminal enterprise were formed by professional Latvian and Estonian intermediaries. The bank accounts of these companies were kept in Latvia and elsewhere, and the real beneficiaries of their activities included citizens of Russia and Ukraine” – added the spokesman of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Lublin.
The funds received were to be transferred to the Open Dialogue Foundation. According to information from the Prosecutor’s Office, the case file comprises almost 40 volumes.
“Both our company and our foundation did everything absolutely legally. We did not have any problems with our activities despite numerous inspections, until we started going out to protest in defence of the rule of law in Poland,” commented Lyudmyla Kozlovska on the information provided by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Bartosz Kramek detained by the Internal Security Agency. “This is what authoritarian dictators do”
As Kozlovska told us, the agency most likely detained Bartosz Kramek in one of the hotels in Warsaw. The day before, Kramek flew in from Brussels, where he spends much of his time since his wife was expelled from Poland.
Kramek came to Warsaw on June 22 for a hearing to be held the next day against Wojciech Biedroń. In October 2019, the Open Dialogue Foundation filed 20 lawsuits against politicians, journalists, activists and media organisations in connection with the “mass propaganda campaign” they were supposed to launch against the Foundation. Among them was Biedroń, but also many important politicians such as Witold Waszczykowski, Joachim Brudziński, Patryk Jaki, Krystyna Pawłowicz, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Ryszard Czarnecki, Szymon Szynkowski, Dominik Tarczyński and Maciej Wąsik.
“I believe that today’s detention of my husband is a continuation of the persecution by the Polish state of our work for democracy and independent courts,” Lyudmyla Kozlovska told us in a broken voice a few hours after the detention. “I am afraid that they may extend his detention, claiming that there is a threat of his escape. In fact, Bartek lives with me in Brussels, but he comes to all court hearings and other events in the country, regardless of the pandemic. There is no possibility whatsoever that he will evade appearing in court.”
“I also see this as an attack on our family,” added Kozlovska. “PiS has been trying to separate us since 2018 and deliberately banned me from entering Poland. Now, by arresting Bartek, they know that I won’t be able to be there to defend him. This is exactly what authoritarian dictators do.”
As Kozlovska told us, the arrest took place at the request of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Lublin. Immediately after that, Kramek was taken to Lublin.
Bartosz Kramek has often lived in Brussels since 2018, as Lyudmyla Kozlovska settled there after being expelled from Poland on the basis of a negative assessment by the Internal Security Agency. 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. In his post, Kramek considered, using the experience of the Ukrainian Maidan as an example, “how to stop the attack of the PiS party on the rule of law in Poland”.
This publication caused a series of attacks on the ODF by the Polish Government, including the imposition of customs and tax inspections on the Foundation, attempts to bring in an external commissioner and attempts to withdraw the Foundation’s accreditation with EU institutions in Brussels. None of these attempts were successful, as we wrote in the article “What dirt the Internal Security Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have on Kozlovska? They have nothing, but the hunt continues.”
In March this year, the Voivodeship Administrative Court overturned the decision that led to Kozlovska’s expulsion from Poland. Despite this, the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation has not been allowed into the country for almost three years.