President Andrzej Duda on Monday approved legislation to establish a special commission tasked with examining the extent of Russian influence over previous Polish governments.
He said such a commission is the transparent way to deal with the issue and, in a gesture towards critics of the legislation, promised that he would refer the legislation for examination by the Constitutional Tribunal. This means the commission can be set up without waiting for the constitutional court.
U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski appeared on commercial broadcaster TVN24, a channel sympathetic to the liberal opposition, which has criticized the measure calling it unconstitutional.
He said the U.S. administration was “well aware of the concerns with this legislation” and that the U.S. government “shares these concerns in that they could affect the right to a fair and free trial and could restrict the choice for voters if individuals are barred from holding office.
The ambassador’s intervention was slammed by former Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who is currently MEP for the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. He took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the U.S. ambassador’s behavior.
“(The) U.S. ambassador on a private television channel, which is actively engaged against the Polish government, openly criticizes the Polish government. It’s an incredible diplomatic scandal,” posted the former head of Polish diplomacy.
The legislation has been criticized for giving authorities the power to bar individuals from holding public office for a period of up to 10 years.
The opposition has alleged that this may be used to stop opposition leader and former Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other politicians from holding public office. However, the legislation does provide the right for individuals to appeal to the courts against decisions reached by the commission.