Updates from Poland
(April 27, 2021)
By Robert Strybel
Russia: diplomatic rows, saber-rattling, troop pull-back
Poland has expelled three Russian diplomats suspected of espionage, and Moscow retaliated by expelling five Poles. Last February, a Polish consular official had been expelled for protesting agaisnt the imprisonment of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. For his part, President Biden announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats as well as new sanctions against dozens of people and companies for Moscow’s interference in last year’s presidential election and the hacking of federal agencies. Moscow in turn expelled 10 US diplomats. The Czechs ordered 88 Russian diplomats to leave their country over Russian agents suspected of blowing up a Czech ammunition depot. The diplomatic rows coincided with an international outcry agaisnt a huge Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian border. After weeks of tension over the provocation, Moscow decided to de-escalate the row and ordered its troops back to their bases.
Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in solidarity Czechia
The government chiefs of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have voiced their support for the Czech Republic in its protest agaisnt suspected Russian sabotage. Russian agents are suspected of engineering the explosion of a Czech munitions depot in which two people were killed. “We condemn this, yet another deplorable act of aggression and breach of international law committed by Russia on European soil. We denounce the disproportionate measures taken by Russia in response to the entirely justified decision of the Czech Republic to expel 18 Russian intelligence officers from its territory and offer our diplomatic and consular support to Czechia,” a statement signed by the three prime ministers said. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic belong to the Visegrad group, an intra-EU alliance of four central-east European nations.
Pandemic lockdown may soon start winding down – Morawiecki
Economic lockdown may end round the start of June, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference recently. But the rollback of pandemic restriction/s would depend on progress achieved with COVID-19 vaccinations. he added. A week earlier, emerging Europe’s largest economy had extended restrictions, ordering the closure of hotels, cinemas, hair salons and many retail establishments. Since then, daily new infection levels have dropped below the 10,000 mark as more and more Poles achieve herd immunity thanks to a stepped-up nationwide inoculation campaign. Even before the start of June. hair salons, some sport faculties and retail shops reopened and schools went on a hybrid system with on-site and online lessons held on alternating days.
Poland pledges zero-pollution power system by mid-century
Poland intends to build a zero-emission energy system by 2050, President Andrzej Duda told a US-hosted international virtual Climate Summit. He was among the leaders of the world’s top 40 economies invited by President Biden to take part. The transition to green energy will be a particularly daunting task for Poland, some 70% of whose electricity is still generated by coal-fired power plants., but Duda said that would drop to only 11% over the next two decades. A major hurdle was crossed recently when the government signed a deal with the Solidarity union guaranteeing today’s coal miners jobs until retirement. Atomic energy is being explored and wind farms, solar panels and electric vehicles are being developed. Poland already is Europe’s biggest producer of electric buses.
United Right remains in lead, upstart Hołownia is in second
The latest political preference poll has shown that Poland’s governing United Right (Law and Justice and two small coalition partners) continues to lead with 36% support, But the liberal Civic Coalition (formerly Civic Platform), which had traditionally been the runner-up, has been dethroned by political upstart Szymon Hołownia who enjoys the backing of 22%. Hołownia, 44, a former member of the Benedictine novitiate, author and TV personality, describes himself as a centrist. The KO can count on the support of 17%. Smaller parties that made it over the 5% threshold are The Left (post-communists/feminists/LGBT) with 10%, the Confederation (libertarians and nationalists) – 8.6% and Polish People’s (formerly Peasant) Party – 5.1%.
German business wants to tap into Poland’s economic boom
German companies are eager to harness the potential of Poland’s economic potential of the Polish economy, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) expects 3% growth in 2021, which would make Poland the only EU country to reach pre-crisis levels by the end of this year. Other forecasts have estimated 4% to 4-5% GDP growth. EBRD chief economist Beata Javorcik said two aspects distinguish Poland’s recovery from others in Europe: diversity and flexibility. “Generous incentive packages have also helped during the crisis.” Deutsche Welle stressed that the German and Polish economies were increasingly linked, pointing to German investments in Poland, including Daimler and Volkswagen.
Polish Primate, blind nun to be beatified September 12th
The delayed beatification of former Polish Primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Mother Róża Maria Czacka would be held on September 12th in Warsaw, Pope Francis decided recently. At the ceremony, the Holy Father will be represented by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, As Primate of Poland, Wyszyński shepherded the Polish Church and Nation through 33 years of Soviet-style oppression and lived to see the emergence of the anti-communist Solidarity union. Róża Maria Czacka (1876-1961) was a noblewoman who went blind at the age of 22 and devoted her life to the care of the sightless. She was best known for establishing a Blind Children’s Village at Laski on the outskirts of Warsaw. She also set up the Franciscan Order of Sister Servants of the Cross. The beatification had originally been scheduled for last summer but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Ambassadress rebuffs Italian daily’s attacks on Poland
Poland’s Ambassadress to Italy, Anna Maria Anders, has accused the left-wing daily La Repubblica of portraying her country in a “one-sided, negatively biased manner.” She specifically referred to the paper’s article “The Black Heart of Poladn” which she said in a letter to its editor distorted such issues as women’s rights, abortion, media freedom and judicial reforms. According to Anders, La Repubblica falsely accused Poland of “the systemic discrimination of women” and opposition to immigration. She noted that in in 2019 Poland had accepted 724,000 legal migrants, more than Germany and Italy combined. Statistics also show that Poland ranks at the top of the list as regards the number of Polish women in CEO positions. The ambassadress is the daughter of Poland’s late World War II Commander, General Władysław Anders.
Chicago Polonia pays tribute to murdered immigrant – TVP
Hundreds of Polish Americans and other Chicagoans paid tribute to Polish immigrant Jakub “Kuba” Marchewka who had been gunned down by an irate motorist, Poland’s public television TVP reported recently.˛ Marchewka, 28, had accidentally scratched the finish of a car parked next to his when opening his door, and during the ensuing argument the car’s owner pulled a gun and shot the Pole dead before driving off. Kuba’s sympathizers marched to northwest Chicago’s Portage Park, the scene of the crime, chanting “Justice for Kuba” whose killer had still not been found two weeks after the shooting. Following in behind were dozens of honking cars and motorcycles sporting Polish and US flags. Placards seen in the crowd deplored the city’s growing gun violence, expressed support for the police and voiced disapproval for Chicago’s ultra-liberal Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “It’s getting worse and worse,” said Beata Kacprzak of Portage Park. “I brought my teenage sons to the protest, but my neighbors were too afraid to leave their homes.”
Polish sci-fi great to be honored in outer space
Poland’s greatest science-fiction author Stanisław Lem will be honored on the centennial of his birth by a European Space Agency astronaut. He recently flew into space as part of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule mission that will remain on board the International Space Station for more than six months. “Stanisław Lem will be honored in space probably in the autumn, at the end of the Crew Dragon’s mission. But how that will be done remains a mystery,” said Szymon
Kloska of the Krakow Festival Office, which has teamed up with the Polish Science Fiction Foundation and the European Space Agency. Writing his science fiction novels from 1946, Lem accurately predicted many of the technologies used in space flight today.
Polish touches at April’s Oscar awards
Polish cinematographer Dariusz Wolski has received a nomination in the Best Cinematography category for his camerawork for “News of the World.” a movie directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring Tom Hanks, it recounts the oft-harrowing adventures of***************** a Civil War veteran who travels the Wild West with a girl raised by Kiowa Indians in search of a place to settle. Also nominated for an Oscar was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s “Quo Vadis, Aida?” recalling Serbia’s 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Poland’s Ewa Puszczyńska, Jarosław Kamiński, Małgorzata Karakul and Antoni Komasa-Łazar all contributed to this international co-production. Paul Raci (originally Racibożyński), 73-year-old Chicago-born character actor, was nominated for the best supporting role in ”The Sound of Metal.” It tells the story of a boy born to hearing-impaired parents. whose first language was sign language.
Blessed sheep herds return to mountain pastures
After being blessed by priests, the sheep herds of hilly southern Poland return to their mountain grazing areas after all snow has disappeared. In years when snow and sub-freezing temperatures drag on into May, the grazing season may be shorter than usual. “We are here for the blessing as a community of shepherds and farmers from our beautiful Carpathian, Tatra and Beskid mountains to ask God for a safe and successful grazing season,” remarked Józef Michalak from the village of Istebna. In normal non-pandemic times, the annual sheep drive attracts throngs of tourists eager to watch, photograph and film the herds and their traditionally attired highlander drovers.
Poland’s Paradise Cave wins UNESCO’s Geopark designation
The Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross Mountains) Geopark has joined the Global Geoparks Network. It comprises 161 Geoparks in 44 countries described as “unified geographical areas with sites and landscapes of international geological significance.” South-central Poland’s geological landscape park features rock formations dating back 400 million years was awarded a UNESCO Geopark Label following four years of lobbying. A notable geological feature and major tourist attraction of the park is Paradise Cave, a karst limestone cave with five chambers and caverns, formed during the Middle Devonian period around 360 million years ago.