The Open Dialogue Foundation has won two more libel lawsuits against Law and Justice party officials. In total, ODF has also instituted 20 such suits in court against key Law and Justice politicians. Already four lawsuits have resulted in settlements in favour of the Foundation.
IN AUGUST, ODF revealed that it won the lawsuit filed against Dominik Tarczynski, who represented the Law and Justice as a member of the European Parliament. This politician in May 2019, in an interview with the German “Deutsche Welle”, threw out an accusation that Lyudmyla Kozlovska — the President of the Foundation — was involved in laundering Russian money.
“I, Dominik Tarczynski, do hereby apologise to Lyudmyla Kozlovska…”
Three years ago, the Foundation sued Tarczynski over those allegations, and on 28 July, a judgment was handed down in the court of first instance. Pursuant to the court’s decision, the politician was obliged to apologise to the ODF activist with the following words:
“I, Dominik Tarczyński, do hereby apologise to Lyudmyla Kozlovska for violating her dignity and good name, and furthermore I do apologize to the Open Dialogue Foundation in Warsaw (KRS:0000353754) for damaging its reputation and good name, by spreading on the Deutsche Welle programme “Conflict Zone” hurtful and false information about their involvement in the process of laundering Russian money“.
Tarczyński is to sign this apology with his own name and keep it posted on his Twitter account for 60 days. The judgment is not yet final.
ODF reported the winning of the court case in a humorous way: they announced on Twitter that the next “winner of the ODF slander apology contest” would be “Dominik »Racoon« Tarczyński”, adding a photo of him wearing a coat with a fur collar and a crown added by a graphic designer. “We promise that Krystyna Pawlowicz, Joachim Brudzinski, Ryszard Czarnecki and others will also live to see this honour. With us, everyone is a winner,” ODF wrote ironically. This was a reference to the lawsuits the Foundation has brought against other Law and Justice politicians (see below).
“The slander targeted against ODF is not only a violation of the Foundation’s good name. It is an example of institutionalized hate speech on the part of the authorities, intended to discourage all those who cooperate with similar organizations disliked by the ruling party. This is why such judgments are so meaningful,” this is how Prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek, who is known for being defiant towards Zbigniew Ziobro, commented on the ruling.
Professor Wojciech Sadurski, a lawyer, prominent pro-democracy activist and critic of the ruling Law and Justice party, pointed out that, as Jacek Żakowski noted in Gazeta Wyborcza, the “furious attacks” on ODF are a “favour to Russia”. He asked Maciej Wąsik, who also recently lost a personal rights case against ODF and Dominik Tarczynski: “Was it the result of credulity, love of Russian self-rule or some other plan?”
Tarczyński, a member of the European Parliament, is very active on TT. Within three weeks of the judgment, he posted or reposted well over 100 tweets on his account. In two of his tweets, he referred to court trials lost by opponents of Law and Justice, and repeatedly published posts accusing Donald Tusk and other opponents of the ruling party of lies.
However, we have not found any tweet in which Tarczynski boasted about his loss in the lawsuit against ODF, and the court ruling that proved that he was the one who missed the truth.
Nor have we found his comments under tweets in which he was tagged, describing the judgment in favour of ODF.
“A three to zero victory for us”
The ODF’s good fortune still continues. A few days later, on 11 August, the Court of Appeal in Warsaw, issued another ruling in favour of the Foundation — by dismissing the appeal filed by the editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Polska” Tomasz Sakiewicz, thus upholding the first-instance judgment that was unfavourable to him. The case concerned a photo-shopped image depicted on the cover of “Gazeta Polska”. The photo presented a group of German soldiers breaking down the Polish national border barrier on 1 September 1939. One of these soldiers had the face of Bartosz Kramek — Chair of the ODF’s Supervisory Board. The other soldiers had the faces of other critics of the ruling Law and Justice party. The court of first instance ruled that by posting such a photomontage, the editor-in-chief of “GP” defamed and violated the plaintiff’s personal rights for which he must apologize and pay compensation. “The fact that the photomontage had a satirical nature did not exclude the violation of personal rights,” the court added.
Sakiewicz has been obliged to pay, jointly with Niezależne Wydawnictwo Polskie, which is an editor of GP, a compensation of PLN 15 thousand in favour of Kramek, PLN 10 thousand in favour of the Women’s Rights Centre, plus legal fees of over PLN 3.2 thousand. In addition, a statement of apology to the activist is also to appear on the second page of the GP newspaper.
“A three to zero victory for us,” rejoiced Bartosz Kramek on TT. The Foundation has previously won two lawsuits against Sakiewicz. The Chair of ODF’s Supervisory Board stressed that they waited as long as five years for the final judgment. “We say ‘no more’ to the authors of nasty slanders, lying for state money. And we are consistent in this,” he wrote. He described “GP” editor-in-chief as follows: “Tomasz Sakiewicz is a smear recidivist who uses slander and lies for party money”. He added that “functionaries of power” try to portray themselves as “persecuted journalists,” while they themselves draw lavish salaries de facto persecuting enemies of the ruling party.
Professor Sadurski commented on what happened even more bluntly: “Putin’s allies are losing trial after trial. It is going well”.
“Ziobro didn’t make it, and Wąsik is going to apologize. I’m glad I could help,” a well-known blogger, Kataryna, commented on the judgment.
The court judgment was considered unfair by the pro-government media. Niezalezna.pl wrote that it was “scandalous,” the first-instance ruling was only “slightly corrected,” and the trial’s outcome only confirms “its biased nature.” “The court took Kramek’s side” because… the presiding judge was one of the signatories of the “Appeal of Polish Judges in Defence of EU Law”. On this website, Sakiewicz also complained that he could not question Kramek during the trial.
Dawid Wildstein — a right-wing journalist, formerly deputy director of TVP World, and now deputy director of Polish Radio Program 3 — misled the public by writing that “court acquits Kramek” as if the Chair of the ODF’s Supervisory Board was the defendant here. He also referred to him as: “the man who attacked the Border Guard and destroyed the Polish border at the time of Russia’s hybrid attack”.
Twenty lawsuits against Law and Justice members/acolytes
ODF has brought civil lawsuits against as many as 20 Law and Justice politicians, propagandists, and institutions alleged to have “slandered” the Foundation. They include, among others, Krystyna Pawłowicz, Witold Waszczykowski, Joachim Brudziński, Ryszard Czarnecki, Patryk Jaki, Jacek Karnowski (e.g. wPolityce.pl), or TVP and Polish Radio Poland.
Twenty lawsuits against the Law and Justice. Securing the lawsuit of the Open Dialogue Foundation against TVP – the Open Dialogue Foundation (odfoundation.eu)
Bartosz Kramek told OKO.press that another ruling — he did not say in which case — could be expected “as soon as practicable” in September.
The lawsuit that ODF has brought against Public Television concerns nearly 40 publications about the organization. The Foundation seeks compensation of PLN 200,000 for “slander regarding arms trafficking, Russian financing, possession of Russian passports, ties to Russian special services, money laundering, financing by oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, treason against Ukraine, and planning a coup d’état”.
As a precautionary measure, in lawsuits brought against TVP and Polish Radio, the court ordered these media to remove articles about ODF and/or to publish statements issued by this NGO.
TVP is to remove articles on the Open Dialogue Foundation and publish statements (wirtualnemedia.pl).
- Salon24: The District Court in Warsaw rules that a PiS MEP must apologise to the Open Dialogue Foundation (09.08.2022)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Another win for the Open Dialogue Foundation in court. Dominik Tarczynski must apologise (09.08.2022)
- Dziennik.pl: Sakiewicz must apologise for the cover of “Gazeta Polska”. There’s a court decision (11.08.2022)
- Gazeta Wyborcza: Libellers must apologise and pay for the cover story (12.08.2022)
- NetInfo24: Tarczynski’s spectacular defeat at court. He must issue an official apology! (14.08.2022)