– At first I was sure it was a joke,” said Roberto Rampi in an interview with Onet. The Italian senator was one of the people to whom the spokesman of the coordinator of the special services, Stanisław Żaryn, wrote explaining the detention of social activist Bartosz Kramek from the Open Dialogue Foundation. According to Rampi, this intervention was a “completely new level of discrediting Poland in the eyes of its European allies.”
- Roberto Rampi is a member of the Italian Senate. For the past three years he has been working as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, dealing with human rights issues around the world.
- The politician is one of the signatories of the international appeal addressed on Wednesday to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and ministers Zbigniew Ziobro and Mariusz Kamiński in Bartosz Kramek’s case. Stanisław Żaryn wrote to some of the people who signed the letter, explaining the detention of the activist.
- – I have never seen a government representative directly addressing an elected official in writing, thereby running a black PR campaign on a case that is underway, said Rampi.
- – I have seen the questionable nature of the work of secret services in Poland before, e.g. in the case against Mr Kramek’s wife, Ms. Kozlovska, in 2018, when the services of other European countries simply ridiculed the ‘secret files’ received from their Polish counterparts, adds Rampi.
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Żaryn writes to foreign politicians
On July14, an international appeal was sent to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Zbigniew Ziobro and Mariusz Kamiński regarding the detention of Bartosz Kramek. It was signed by dozens of public figures and organisations. Among them were also foreign senators and MEPs.
In response, the spokesman for the Minister Coordinator of Special Services Stanisław Żaryn sent emails to the foreign signatories of the appeal, in which he argued that they made a mistake by standing up for Kramek.
– Although he appears to be a dedicated human rights activist, evidence gathered by Polish authorities suggests that he set up and operated a money laundering scheme in one of his businesses linked to the Open Dialogue Foundation. The funds came from unknown sources, including Russia. The evidence in this case is reliable, exhaustive and incriminating, which prompted the independent court to remand him in three months’ detention, wrote Stanisław Żaryn.
– We sent this email to some of the signatories who signed a letter in defence of Mr Bartosz K. In my opinion, a part of this letter raises doubts as to whether people from outside of Poland had a chance to get to the source information related to this investigation, while the appeal itself is full of certain phrases that attempt to politicise the case – the spokesman for the Minister Coordinator of Special Services commented in an interview with Onet.
Italian senator on Bartosz Kramek’s detention: it is a disgrace
Onet contacted Senator Roberto Rampi, one of the signatories of the letter in defence of the activist. The member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asserts that “the activity of Mr. Kramek and his Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) have been known to him for many years”. The politician noted that the Foundation’s work is important to him because they “work on countless cases of political persecution and human rights violations in the post-Soviet area.”
– I am also familiar with their commitment to protecting the rule of law in Poland and I know how this angers the Polish government, said Rampi.
– Now I see Mr. Kramek detained on the basis of charges that the Polish services have received from Russia and Moldova, countries where, together with the ODF, I have defended human rights. Knowing these facts, how can this detention be seen as anything other than political repression, revenge for Mr. Kramek’s actions? It is a disgrace, adds Roberto Rampi.
“Allegations copied from Russia and Belarus”
The Italian MEP stresses that the whole case is suspicious to him. – From the lack of independence of the prosecution and the secret services to the fact that the charges are almost as if copied from Russia or Belarus, Roberto Rampi believes.
– I see the suppression of all critical voices by the Polish authorities, more and more similar to the post-Soviet dictatorships, and this worries me. The government appears to be stepping up repression by taking advantage of the courts and prosecutors it controls, arresting critics such as Kramek and bringing charges against others, such as the leaders of the Women’s Strike, at the same time trying to silence independent media.
According to the Italian politician, a successful attack on the Open Dialogue Foundation will have a “chilling effect on civil society” and will show that “any critical activist or organisation, even one that enjoys international support, can be silenced”.
– That is why I signed the appeal prepared by, among others, President Wałęsa. As an admirer of Poland’s brave escape from communism, just like him I cannot let Poland lose its freedom again, and the attack on the ODF is a serious step in that direction, he assesses.
– The court is manipulated by the secret services and the prosecution with the help of the state media. The decision to detain Mr. Kramek had to be made at extremely short notice, and the prosecution reportedly immediately provided hundreds of pages of material produced against him. No wonder the court agreed to detention, adds the member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Roberto Rampi on Stanisław Żaryn’s intervention: a completely new level of discrediting Poland
– At first I was sure it was a joke, says the Italian parliamentarian, when asked about the email from the spokesman for the Minister Coordinator of Special Services, Stanisław Żaryn.
– I have never seen a government representative directly addressing an elected official in writing, thereby running a black PR campaign on a case that is underway, he stresses.
– I have seen the questionable nature of the work of secret services in Poland before, e.g. in the case against Mr Kramek’s wife, Ms. Kozlovska, in 2018, when the services of other European countries simply ridiculed the ‘secret files’ received from their Polish counterparts, adds Rampi.
In his opinion, Stanisław Żaryn’s email is a “completely new level of discrediting Poland in the eyes of its European allies.”
Government versus the Open Dialogue Foundation
The conflict between the Polish authorities and the foundation and its members 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.’
His publication caused a series of attacks on the ODF by the authorities, 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 have been successful.
In August 2018, Poland expelled from its territory the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, who is a citizen of Ukraine. 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, although the ban on her entry has been lifted by all European Union countries.
The Open Dialogue Foundation deals with the defence of human rights in the countries of the former Eastern bloc. They fought for a number of high-profile dissidents, including the release of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, who had been imprisoned by the Russians.