In a special statement, the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) responded to accusations against Bartosz Kramek, an arrested activist and the husband of Lyudmyla Kozlovska, the head of the organisation. According to the foundation, the accusations are bizarre and the allegations are untrue.
On Thursday, 25 June, acting on the request of the public prosecutor’s office, the court arrested Bartosz Kramek – an activist and the husband of Lyudmyla Kozlovska, who was expelled from Poland three years ago. Kramek, a member of the foundation’s board, is accused by the prosecutor’s office of making false statements in VAT invoices, and of money laundering.
Prosecution: Millions from virtual offices
Information shared by the prosecutors suggests that in 2012–16, in his capacity as CEO of the Silk Road company, Kramek issued VAT invoices for unspecified services described as “consultancy services”, “IT services” and “VOIP services”. According to the prosecution, his contractors included “only entities from so-called tax havens such as Belize or Seychelles, and entrepreneurs who are only faking economic activity and who registered their businesses in virtual offices”. It is claimed that Kramek transferred the PLN 5.3 million earned in this way to accounts of, among others, the Open Dialogue Foundation.
The foundation’s head, Kramek’s wife Lyudmyla Kozlovska, has claimed from the beginning that her husband’s detention is “another instance of persecution against herself and her husband for their activity promoting democracy and an independent judiciary in Poland”.
ODF: a Kafkaesque farce
On Thursday, July 1, the foundation issued a statement in which, point by point, it responds to the allegations, and enumerates irregularities it claims were committed by the prosecution. It calls the entire arrest and detention “a Kafkaesque farce”.
According to the foundation’s representatives, the prosecution fails to explain what Kramek’s false statements consisted in, which invoices the accusations relate to, and why Kramek’s company supporting the foundation would constitute money laundering. In its statement, the foundation also explains what activity was carried out by the company owned by Kramek and what connections with ODF are.
In the opinion of the Open Dialogue Foundation, the prosecution is wrong to accuse Kramek of “money laundering”. In the published statement, it precisely explains how the foundation spent the PLN 5.3 million transferred by Kramek’s company.
The foundation further states that the prosecution’s claim that the proceeds on Silk Road’s accounts came from “fictitious” entities registered in tax havens or virtual offices is also nonsense. According to the ODF, doing business with entities registered in virtual offices in the UK is a common practice in many sectors.
ODF: Bizarre accusations
The foundation also refers to allegations that it is “an agent of Russian influence”. The ODF points out that its activities have been subjected to a review process by, among others, the Police, the Internal Security Agency and the Military Counterintelligence Service, and that “the verification process ended favourably”. According to the foundation, such accusations are “bizarre”. “The foundation is one of the most effective pro-Ukrainian and anti-Kremlin organizations in Poland and Europe,” the statement reads.
The ODF adds that these allegations are not new, and that right-wing media have been targeting the foundation for several years. It also recalls a 2019 ruling by the Regional Court in Warsaw, which “confirmed numerous violations of ODF’s personal rights by Telewizja Polska S.A. regarding the same allegations”. The statement also notes that, “According to the court, these were based on, among other things, ‘manipulations’ or ‘unspecified allegations’. The court also pointed out, among other things, ‘inaccuracies’, ‘assessments of facts having nothing to do with reality’ and ‘completely one-sided reporting’ by TVP.”
The Open Dialogue Foundation draws attention to what it calls “blatant irregularities in the arrest and detention of Kramek”. These include “the use of disproportionate coercive measures against him (excessive force) in the complete absence of grounds for detention”.