The head of the Law and Justice (PiS) election campaign Joachim Brudziński must apologise to the Open Dialogue Foundation for groundlessly accusing it of money laundering.
The court’s verdict, which is not yet final, is another victory for the management of the Open Dialogue Foundation — Lyudmyla Kozlovska and Bartosz Kramek — in a series of lawsuits for violation of personal rights by PiS politicians and media associated with the ruling camp.
The civil lawsuit brought against Joachim Brudziński concerned his tweet published on 22 April 2019, the evening of Easter Monday. At the time, the politician was acting as Minister of the Interior and was campaigning for the upcoming European Parliament elections.
“Hey, hey defenders of the >>European-Kazakh<< anglers of the >>government shutdown<<, do you already know that you are ???????? ?????? Do you know that December’s >>resurrection miracle<< of Mr. D. and the candles from Rossmann are all for laundered, dirty money? Lusia and her tolerant husband are unlikely to get the Nobel”.
The content of the entry in places is difficult to understand, which was presented in favour of the defendant in court by his defence lawyers. However, we can reconstruct the context where the words “laundered, dirty money” were used.
Where did the attack on the Open Dialogue Foundation come from?
The Foundation has been targeted by the services, PiS politicians and the media supporting them for several years now. Kramek came under fire in July 2017 when, during protests in defence of free courts, he published a Facebook post about “how to stop the Law and Justice Party’s assault on the rule of law in Poland”.
The President of the Foundation, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, was entered by the head of the Internal Security Agency into the Schengen Information System and marked with the highest alert. This meant that the activist, who has a Ukrainian passport, was banned from entering most European Union countries, including Poland.
In their attacks on the Foundation, PiS politicians used, among others, a report prepared in 2018 by a special investigative committee appointed by the Moldovan parliament, dominated by oligarchic and corrupt groups. It was supposed to allegedly investigate the illegal funding of opposition parties in the country by the Open Dialogue Foundation.
Earlier this year, Moldova dismissed the report, considering its creation “a stain on the conscience not only of the previous government but also of Moldovan parliamentarism”. But before it happened, it was described by The Sunday Times, which gave PiS politicians and associated media a pretext to accuse the Foundation of working for Russia and call for its banning. Brudziński also published his post at the time.
Kozlovska and Kramek decided to defend their rights in court, suing a total of 20 individuals and institutions. In total, the activists are demanding almost PLN 1.7 million.
Court: no grounds for such allegations
In the case of Joachim Brudziński, the court found a clear violation of personal rights, in particular in the context of the unauthorised and very serious accusation of the Foundation of money laundering. “The court stated that neither the Moldovan report nor The Sunday Times article justify such allegations and in such a form,” emphasises Bartosz Kramek.
As he tells “Wyborcza”, during the trial, Brudziński’s defence lawyers (he himself never took part in the hearings) referred posts of internet users who assessed the Law and Justice (PiS) politician’s tweet as difficult to understand “gibberish”. As a result, it is impossible to ascertain exactly what the author of the post was referring to, or who it was about.
“Joachim Brudziński’s attorneys also attempted to show that I should not feel insulted by the politician’s words, as I myself use harsh, offensive language in my posts and incite people to break the law. The court did not share this argumentation and wrote in the justification that it is difficult to see a violation of the legal order in our activities. My text from 2017 in defence of the courts, which led the Law and Justice party into hysteria, was instead part of the public debate that was taking place at the time, it also strongly disavowed violence and cannot be considered unlawful,” Kramek explained to “Wyborcza”.
The PiS politician is to publish a statement of apology to the Open Dialogue Foundation, Lyudmyla Kozlovska and Bartosz Kramek on Twitter and “pin” it there for 60 days. In addition, he is to pay a total of PLN 30,000 in compensation, interest and cover court and legal fees.
“This is a very important verdict, illustrating the moral qualities of a key PiS politician in a sensitive pre-election period. The autumn elections will determine whether the representatives of the current government will continue to go unpunished, or whether they will be deprived of the protection of the Prosecutor’s Office and the time of criminal reckoning will begin. Poles must answer the question of whether they still want us to be governed by certified slanderers and criminals,” comments Bartosz Kramek.
Kramek wants to prosecute Wąsik and Brudziński
The other trials are at various stages. The Foundation has also already won in four of them. At the beginning of July, we wrote about the defeat of TVP, which has to apologise for the hysterical, manipulating and reality-defying materials targeting the Open Dialogue Foundation. Earlier, however, the court decided, among other things, that Dominik Tarczyński must apologise for his words about the Foundation’s involvement in laundering money from Russia. Similary, Maciej Wąsik, deputy head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration and deputy coordinator of special services, who accused the Open Dialogue Foundation of having links with Russia, hybrid activities and money laundering, should do the same.
In April this year, Kramek filed a request for an investigation against Wąsik and Joachim Brudziński also in another case — in connection with alleged surveillance in hotels belonging to the state holding company. The case was described in “Wyborcza” by Wojciech Czuchnowski. Wąsik allegedly persuaded one of the hotel employees to collect materials
compromising Kramek, while Brudziński allegedly illegally obtained information about the next day’s planned meeting of the Civic Coalition (KO) leaders with Belarusian oppositionist Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The complaint submitted to the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw says that the former head of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, and now a Law and Justice MEP, may even have “ordered the illegal surveillance” of KO leaders. As Kramek told us, it’s been more than three months and the Prosecutor’s Office still haven’t initiated an investigation.
A complaint of its own to the Prosecutor’s Office was also submitted by the Civic Platform.