Or maybe they are turning their heads away, because they turn their heads as a result of the Kremlin-PiS propaganda. Since June 23, a political prisoner of the PiS party, Bartosz Kramek from the Open Dialogue Foundation, has been held in detention. On July 8, time runs out for him to pay PLN 300,000 bail, which would allow him to be released. Neither he nor his family have that kind of money.
Meanwhile, the “pro-democracy” media has so far made no mention of the fact that citizens can help in this matter. I will try to explain the reasons for that, hoping that this will change.
Since 2017, PiS politicians and media have taken Kramek, his wife Lyudmyla Kozlovska and the foundation they run as symbolic and even demonic enemies. PiS’s almost cartoonish propaganda (inspired by the activities of Putin’s special services, Moldovan oligarchs and Kazakhstan’s dictatorship) called them at the same time Putin’s agents, the right hand of Soros, millionaires making income on laundering money from Russian oligarchs, organisers of an armed uprising against PiS and the actual centre of command of the opposition in Poland (all protests against “Poland”, that is against PiS, as it was written and said in the PiS media, took place in our country “according to Kramek’s scenario”).
Why is the Open Dialogue Foundation hated by autocrats?
The reason was Bartek’s manifesto (link #1, all links in comments if I manage to post them, because today there are some problems with linking on Facebook) posted on Facebook in July 2017, in which he presented a scenario inspired by the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity (which for Poles means “bloody Maidan”, and this association alone is already a success of the Russian narrative) of a peaceful attempt to remove PiS from power (protests of many thousands of people against PiS’s laws on courts were just breaking out). To be brutally honest, if it weren’t for the absurd weight that PiS put on this text (not denying its merits), one of thousands that were being published on the subject at the time, it’s likely that nobody would have paid any attention to it. The material became fairly widely known only after the beginning of PiS’s campaign and hunt for Lyudmyla and Bartek.
Why did PiS find a classic excerpt from a handbook of peaceful civil disobedience so threatening? There are probably many reasons for this, starting with the indolence of the authorities’ propaganda apparatus and ending with the government’s desired revenge for the fact that PiS politicians (just like PO) had previously supported the foundation’s activity and the latter turned out to be so “ungrateful”.
The public has known the ODF, if it knows it at all, since 2014, when the foundation became famous for providing practical aid to Ukraine when it was invaded by Russia. They sent bulletproof vests, helmets and night vision goggles to Ukraine (which years later turned into “arms trade” in PiS propaganda) rather than sweets or crayons for children (I am not trying to ridicule such aid, I am only pointing out that at that particular moment it was inadequate to the needs: Ukraine was threatened with conquest and partition, its army did not exist, the enemy stood at the gates, and Crimea had been just annexed by Putin). The Foundation, well aware that, in order to effectively help Ukraine, it was necessary to be in touch with “high society”, established contacts and cooperation with politicians of all important political groups in Poland, and they in turn had the opportunity to take a selfie at Maidan. Created by young people with no complexes, who know languages, PR rules and law, who were well acquainted with the elites of the European Union, who acted professionally and who therefore won races for grants with NGOs of the older generation, it was precisely in this environment that it had already gained at least some unfavourable competitors, who later, when the campaign began, were happy to engage in quiet backbiting and to disseminate slander. PiS propaganda has encountered an environment that was in places thirsty for this kind of behaviour. While in Ukraine the ODF remained in grateful memory, in Poland it was inconvenient for many people. When the PiS party began its hunt, many people who were far from it and far from Putin, but who like to help when there is an opportunity to settle their personal disputes, which they justify, of course, with a higher good, volunteered for the hunt.
Here’s a personal aside: yesterday I met with a relatively well-known journalist and we were talking about the beginning of this case. I said to him: “So I asked each and every one of these people (who “warned” against the ODF) what it was all about exactly, what the allegations were! And none of them could say anything. They only offered mysterious expressions and, at most, said: ‘that’s for sure, important people say so’.” He didn’t even let me finish and just shouted: “Exactly! The same happened to me! No one was even able to state their charges!”
I know that it was similar in other situations and, for example, someone said in a group: “my knowledge comes from my diplomatic activity.” But this person did not even specify what knowledge they meant or where it came from, the only message was: “stay away!” So it will probably forever remain a matter of speculation as to whether this person was told something by the Russian ambassador or whether they came across something while reading von Däniken at their post.
Immediately afterwards, the allegations finally materialised not only in the PiS media, which the “democrats” were not allowed to refer to, but also in the so-called “Rey’s report” (a load of nonsense – see the debunking in link 2), which was a collection of insinuations based on lies or deliberate manipulation, full of mistakes, sloppiness and ill will, stemming from the author’s personal dislike of the ODF, with which he simply quarrelled at some point. NB: He is also the subject of a defamation trial – one of 20 that Bartek’s arrest is expected to effectively sabotage, but more on that later. In any case, at that time I read the debunking of this “report” (linked by me in the last parenthesis), but also used my own Ukrainian sources (and I have been dealing with Ukraine for 20 years), which ridiculed these “revelations”. Despite this, the “stench” around the case caused, among other things, people in the circles of civil opposition, or rather parts of it, to be afraid of cooperation with “this Kramek” (as the subject of PiS’s campaign finally became more widely recognised) and every one of his proposals, e.g. joint speeches in defence of the judiciary in European institutions, where ODF had its way already paved, was rejected as an act of usurpation or “an attempt to use them for his own purposes.” And this is what the Kremlin and PiS may consider a success. The narrative that Kramek is a Russian agent has effectively divided the “street” community (but also the media and politics). The Foundation, however, as a foundation, was doing its own thing – the Polish swamp was not interested in the fact that it was helping the Kazakh or Moldovan opposition, that it was supporting the idea of popularising the “Magnitsky Act” and sanctions against Putin’s regime in the international arena, that it was supporting the fight to free Sentsov or Savchuk, that is, in practice, it was active in areas that we can only read about. As long as we are drawn to reading foreign press and not the Karnowski brothers’ website.
Meanwhile, PiS launched the attack. The government media produced hundreds of materials about the iniquities of the “Kramek” family, but, as usual, without any evidence, unless one considers as evidence the discredited Rey’s “report” or the decision of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office to open an investigation into the case of treason and money laundering by Lyudmyla, which, after a single phone call by journalists of the “DGP” magazine to the same prosecutor’s office, turned out to be fake news (there was no such investigation at all, and what is scarier: only these journalists asked about it, despite the fact that all media were buzzing about the case – link 3).
Waszczykowski, as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, applied to the court for the introduction of an external commissioner into the foundation and lost (link 4), because the court did not find anything true in the nonsense dressed up in the form of “allegations”. Let me remind you that PiS tried in the same way to take over another “hostile” foundation, Citizens of Poland, to which the court also did not agree.
At the same time, of course completely by coincidence, the office where Waszczykowski’s brother worked started a customs and tax inspection of the foundation and Kramek’s company (link 5). As a result of the first of these inspections, PiS is ordering the foundation to pay hundreds of thousands of zlotys in tax for… aid sent to Ukraine (as far as I know, the legal dispute is ongoing)! As a result, the second inspection, which has proved nothing for years, is now full of fabricated allegations based on fake news (more about this in a moment). By the way: the foundation and the company have been inspected over and over again – to no avail. Until Moldovan gangsters came to aid PiS.
Deportation of Lyudmyla Kozlovska
Kozlovska and Kramek live in Poland, they are married. When after almost a year of the hate campaign in pro-government media, inspections and investigations failed to find anything on Kramek, in August 2018, PiS suddenly entered Lyudmyla into the Schengen Information System as a threat to the interests of Poland and the EU, causing her immediate deportation to Kiev. The documents intended to prove this are of course secret, but the services – in official communications and controlled leaks to their collaborators in the government media – shout about “money laundering” and, of course, suggest that she is Putin’s agent. At the same time, the documents are so secret that they cannot even be shown to the services of other countries which demand some proof, because in the EU and NATO, after Macierewicz and his claims about Smolensk, the Polish services, to put it mildly, are not fully trusted. This, in addition to the Foundation’s good reputation in Europe and in Brussels itself, means that just a month later European countries did the unthinkable: they ignored the Polish entry in the SIS and granted visas to Kozlovska, who then became the person she has defended for half of her life – in other words: a political refugee. Paradoxically not from her native Crimea, occupied by the Russians, but from Poland, ruled by PiS. She appears in the Bundestag, a number of European institutions and elsewhere besides, infuriating the PiS party. Under these links (6 and 7) you can find a description of appearances of the Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in this case and evidence that there was, in fact, no evidence. What the PiS party had in hand was crude fake news produced by the Moldovan secret services and politicians serving the country’s ruling oligarch-criminal, an inept attempt to take revenge on the ODF for its support for the democratic opposition, including Maia Sandu, who, after the overthrow of kleptocratic government in 2019, was to be elected president of Moldova, which she has been ever since (the finale of the fake news case in Moldova is described at link 8).
The sources quoted above show that PiS deliberately did not show anyone in the EU and the US the “evidence” in Kozlovska’s case, because they themselves realised that it was just worthless propaganda. This is also apparent from the Internal Security Agency’s memo (see link 6 for details), which disqualifies the “Moldovan report” as a source of any allegations. This knowledge, however, did not change the fact that this “report”, made public as recently as November 2018 in Moldova itself, was at the heart of the documents (that were kept secret from the public in Poland and the EU, as well as from Kozlovska herself), which were supposed to confirm that she was a dangerous criminal (these documents were of course not accessible to Lyudmyla’s lawyers). The PiS party went rogue in this case, presenting the publicly available and ridiculed fake news as “secret” documents before the Polish court, where proceedings to declare Kozlovska’s deportation unlawful were pending (and are ongoing), but the court didn’t fall for it and declared the documents unreliable three times (links 10 and 11), ordering her case to be reconsidered, which, of course, PiS didn’t give a damn about. The entry ban hasn’t been lifted – Lyudmyla has a residence card in Belgium and can move around the EU, only she still can’t enter Poland.
Moreover, now the same fake news is used as the basis for accusations against Kramek, but more on that in a moment. It should also be recalled that the “Moldovan report” returned as “evidence” against the Foundation in a Sunday Times publication in 2019 (when Lyudmyla had just been granted a residence card in Belgium after being verified by Western services), which gave PiS the motivation to repeat the slander, until it turned out that this text was made to order – only it is not clear whose order it was – whether it was PiS, Moldovan gangsters or the Kremlin, which is described in detail here at link #12.
To sum up:
Over the years of investigations and inspections, the entire apparatus of the PiS party has failed to obtain any evidence of criminal or espionage activity against the ODF and its employees, and thus to bring any charges against them (except for those absurd taxes for aid given to Ukraine, which aid PiS denies on principle: “We do not believe in documents from Ukraine and that’s it”). That is why they picked fake news produced on behalf of a Moldovan mega-gangster, knowing it was worth no more than toilet paper, yet PiS goes around the courts with the same roll of used paper, telling them that these are secret documents and the paper is not shitty – even though they are as secret as the Coca-cola logo, and the paper was flushed down the toilet long ago. However, this is not the end of the story.
The Open Dialogue offensive
Lyudmyla won against PiS in the deportation case in Polish courts, and the foundation began the arduous task of regaining trust, damaged among democrats by the PiS-Kremlin-Moldova slander. Lyudmyla’s unlawful deportation and victories in court, as well as the hard work of journalists uncovering fake news, such as Onet’s Marcin Wyrwał or DGP’s Zbigniew Parafianowicz, resulted in sympathy tilting to their side, and Bartek’s texts have even been printed by the Gazeta Wyborcza magazine. Bartek actively participates in street protests, he is harassed by the police but wins against them in court – just like other “street people” – while the foundation organises anti-press advertising campaigns and takes over the “Sok z Buraka” website, hated by PiS. Short and to the point: it is becoming a bigger and bigger thorn in the President’s arse. All the more so as already in 2019, it brought 20 lawsuits against PiS politicians from the front pages of newspapers, their media servants, as well as TVPiS, “Polskie” (now “PiS”) Radio and other pro-government media (links 13 and 14).
As a result, Bartek, who had to move to Brussels with the whole foundation after Lyudmyla was deported (that’s right: Lyudmyla, who was accused of being a Russian agent by the PiS party, was granted a residence card in Brussels, where, among other institutions, the head office of NATO is located), but every month he spends several days in Poland, not only because he wants to participate in protests, but also because he has to attend lawsuits filed against the PiS party. So while Lyudmyla is already beyond PiS’s reach, Kramek is still easily accessible.
“An oddity, a set-up, a farce”
These are not my words about Kramek’s arrest on 23 June, but those of a well-known prosecutor (link 15). Kramek, accused by PiS of fraud amounting to millions zlotys, was detained at a hotel in Warsaw’s Służew district (a popular place for millionaires to stay), on the day of a break between the trials of two PiS party members. The day before, which is described in the text linked a moment ago, Ziobro’s restrictions on paying bail came into force. By coincidence, they fit Kramek’s economic and family situation perfectly (it is obvious that the arrest was delayed for these regulations to come into force – Kramek flew to Poland on 21 June, so normally he would have been immediately arrested at the airport).
The case is being handled by the prosecutor’s office in Lublin. Why? Because it can be assumed that the Warsaw courts know too much about the fact that PiS has nothing on the Kramek family. In Lublin, the “Moldovan papers” were not yet present.
I would like to warn you that what I am about to write is a hypothesis which I cannot confirm, but which is highly probable. And I am not the only one who thinks so.
PiS wants to put the “Russian agent” in jail based on Russian Secret Service materials
– this subtitle is of course a shorthand way of conveying the paranoia of the situation and explaining why PiS talks so little about the “evidence”.
Well, I’d bet dollars to donuts that PiS has had nothing but Moldovan fake news for years (and just using such “evidence” for years is a crime). This is demonstrated by the restraint of the prosecution’s communication, which can actually only be read in Poland by the few people maniacally following the case. And this restraint is due to the fact that the only thing that is supposed to “refresh” this fake news is their “confirmation” by the authorities of the Russian, who is occupying Crimea, and possibly Kazakh dictatorships (link 16).
I’m sure you understand that PiS, a party that denies every piece of information from the Kremlin about the Smolensk catastrophe because “the Russians killed our president of the millennium and the elite in Smolensk”, cannot immediately admit that it is making a criminal out of someone it has been accusing for years of being a Russian agent (like Putin did with Khodorkovsky or Navalny) with the help of the Russian Secret Service.
The countdown to Polexit has begun
Firstly, by de facto failing to recognise international decisions, EU courts and tribunals, PiS has effectively left the European legal space a long time ago. Dreams that they will lose their parliamentary majority and give up power should, for the time being, be labelled as pious hopes.
For now, PiS is consolidating and is clearly seeking support among Putin’s outspoken allies (the declaration with Le Pen, Salvini and Orban). From the point of view of Kaczyński, who probably considers himself a new incarnation of Piłsudski, this is a game similar to the alliance with the central states, but Kaczyński himself does not realise that Putin is admired by many members and supporters of PiS, who in the name of “independence” from the EU are willing at least to copy the laws of Putin’s Russia (like Orban), or even to cooperate directly. The “Senator” does not know that he is in charge of National Democrats. By the way, PiS went for win-win cooperation with Russia already at the time of the wiretapping scandal that brought down PO.
This is why PiS got on the tiger and will not be able to get off it, because this would be a threat that the same tiger could reveal deals made on various issues, including the one that unites both parties, i.e. closing the “treacherous mouth” of the Open Dialogue. The foundation, which is not treated seriously by the Polish “opposition”, is, as opposed to the latter, capable of harming both sides in the international arena, so – rightly from the point of view of PiS and the Kremlin – it is treated more seriously than all the current opposition entities. Acting like a corporation, having (according to PiS) loads of money and connections everywhere in the West, it is a potentially more dangerous enemy than some desperate volunteers from the street.
And this opposition, together with its media, has succeeded in imposing a narrative that damages the good name of the ODF, making it impossible to cooperate against PiS. A classic divide et impera, which many see and many regret, but no one is able to remedy.
Few are painfully aware that in the long run, neither Tusk on a white horse nor turning our heads away from the jail in which political prisoners of PiS are rotting will free us from fascist (according to Madeleine Albright’s definition) populism. It is solidarity in defence of each of them – solidarity with a small “s”, not declared, but practiced on a daily basis – that can do this.
* The “intelligentsia”, especially the “bitter” part of it, will at first glance recognize what I am referring to with this title, so I would like to explain that my “hyperbolism” is neither intended to “épater le bourgeois” nor is it a direct comparison – its role is to draw attention.
After Justyna Grabowska:
1. Here is the text for which PiS hates Kramek: https://m.facebook.com/nt/screen/…
2. “Rey’s report” was already debunked in 2017. This shows that the “report” is a bunch of lies, slander and grotesque insinuations, garnished with fabrications (Rey is one of the 20 people sued by the Foundation for slander; his trial will also be practically sabotaged if B. Kramek is arrested): https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/…/kolejne-uderzenie…/e3cjgjm
3. One phone call was all it took to expose this fake news: https://www.gazetaprawna.pl/…/1232909,parafianowicz-i…
4. PiS wanted to take over the ODF, but the court objected: https://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,22803849,waszczykowski-chcial…
5. Waszczykowski’s brother in the office that carries out the inspection of the ODF: https://www.gazetaprawna.pl/…/1419293,brat-ministra…
6. The Poles did not hand over any “evidence” to other EU countries because they knew it was worthless. In the following links: these “proofs”, i.e. Moldovan fake news, debunked by the Internal Security Agency itself and three times by the Polish court in Kozlovska’s case, are now used against Kramek: https://www.onet.pl/…/sprawa-ludmily…/2bmnkmp,79cfc278
7. As in the comment above: https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/…/kompromitacja…/93x8bx2
8. There is no case against the Open Dialogue Foundation in democratic Moldova: “Moldovan papers” (reprinted from the DGP magazine): https://odfoundation.eu/…/27334,gazeta-prawna-ludmyla…/
9. Embarrassment of the Internal Security Agency: https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/…/sprawa-ludmily…/2bmnkmp
10. The court recognised the Internal Security Agency’s documents as worthless three times: https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/…/sad-znowu-uchyla…/ef7vq2y
11. Same thing: why are the courts on its side? Because the services’ “evidence” proves nothing: https://forsal.pl/artykuly/1429203,kozlowska-wygrywa-sprawe-o-pobyt-dowody-abw-niewystarczajace.html
12. Humbug: “Sunday Times” – Moldovan fake news and PiS media texts are promoted by a “commercial text author” and a Brexit guy: https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/…/autorzy…/nygbff1…
13. With Bartek’s detention, PiS wants to sabotage 20 lawsuits brought against party politicians and propagandists: https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/tylko-w-onecie/20-prywatnych-aktow-oskarzenia-przeciw-politykom-i-dziennikarzom-za-ataki-na-otwarty/g4cm4bj
14. The court rules in favour of the ODF and crushes the PiS-Kremlin propaganda: https://obywatele.news/sekcja-zwlok-pisowskiej-propagandy/
15. Krzysztof Boczek on “Lex Kramek” (The text appeared only on FB. Why? That’s another story): https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10209541010118022&id=1710198812
16. Lawyer from Kazakhstan on the PiS-Nazarbayev deal: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1271187576648633&id=100012722075371