Police broke up a demonstration by nurses in the streets of Warsaw on Wednesday. Nurses have been protesting in the capital for the past two days over low pay and blocked the street in front of the Prime Minister’s Chancellory.
The striking nurses had set up camp in the street following a demonstration on Tuesday by 4,500 nurses.
Police in riot gear broke up the protest on Wednesday. "The police brutally pushed us onto the grass," said Zofia Kolanko, a nurse from Krakow who had spent the night on the street. "We're going to camp here until Government representatives come out to talk to us. Up until now they've been ignoring us," she added.
Two nurses were taken to hospital following the police operation, one with a leg injury and the other after fainting.
Doctors’ unions, who are also striking at about one-third of Poland’s public hospitals, and coal miners have warned they will join the nurses’ strike action
People do a good job of managing their own lives in a complex, modern society. When they think about subjects like politics and economics, on the other hard, people tend take off their thinking caps and embrace pleasant absurdities.
A list of former communist collaborators in influential positions in Poland was leaked to the media. The people on the "list of 500" were members of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) - the party of former communists.
Just this past weekend, Janusz Kurtyka, the president of the National Institute of Remembrance (IPN) had said the names would be published only in academic literature. The IPN holds communist-era secret police files on Polish citizens who collaborated with the former regime.
The list has been dubbed "lista Kurtyki" in a suggestion that the IPN president leaked the names.
Meanwhile, the influential daily Rzeczpospolita printed that former President Aleksander Kwasniewski was on the list.
Other notable names appearing on the list include Jacek Piechota (former Minister of Economy), Zbigniew Siemiatkowski (the former intelligence chief), Roman Jagiellinski (former Minister of Agriculture) and Longin Pastusiak (former Sejm Speaker). Former Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati and former Treasury Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek are also reportedly listed as contacts.
Former President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa called the list a witchhunt and added that "the only way out is early elections."
The Constitutional Tribunal, Poland's highest court, has ruled that publication of names would be unconstitutional. Tribunal Chief Justice Jerzy Stepien said the publication of the list would be an "infringement on the rule of law."
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who has been at odds with the Tribunal said that Poles "have a right to know" who was a collaborator with the communist regime. He added that those who oppose full disclosure are favoring censorship and doing democracy a great disservice.
A leading Democratic lawmaker lashed out at the former leaders of Germany and France, calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a `political prostitute.'
Leftist coalition cementing its position as a major party in Poland
According to the latest opinion poll from PBS DGA commissioned by Gazeta Wyborcza, the opposition party Civic Platform (PO) has 31% support while the ruling Law & Justice (PiS) follows with 27%.
Since the last poll in May, PiS lost a percentage point and PO gained 3 pps.
The third most popular party is the coalition of leftist parties, Lewica i Democraci (LiD) with 12% support levels. Following the numerous scandal's of the last leftist Government, led by Leszek Miller, many analysts predicted the demise of the former communists, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). The party managed to reinvent itself to a degree and joined the LiD coalition with a number of smaller parties. Its support has been growing fairly steadily for the past few months as support levels for the two main parties have remained surprisingly steady, with neither PO nor PiS able to make much headway.
One party that has lost support in the past six months or so is junior coalition partner Samoobrona. Early in its tenure as a member of the Government, it had support of about 10% of the populace. Now the party regularly polls in the neighborhood of 6%.
This month's PBS DGA poll was conducted on June 10-11 on a representative sample of 1022 persons.
The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which is responsible for judging those accused of communist-era crimes, said former communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski and General Czeslaw Kiszczak can be charged for imposing martial law in 1981.
"Martial law was a communist crime, and the IPN was created to bring justice," IPN's press secretary Andrzej Arseniuk said. "The accused violated the law which existed at that time and, hence, there is no doubt as to the validity of these charges."
If convicted of the charge of running a criminal organization, Jaruzelski and Kiszczak, who are both over 80 and in poor health, could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Jaruzelski has long maintained that the imposition of martial law was needed to prevent a Soviet intervention in Poland as the Solidarity movement was gaining steam and civil unrest was high.
After martial law was imposed on December 13, 1981, scores of people died in police custody and about 90,000 were arrested by the communist regime.
A railway worker who emerged from a 19-year coma woke to a radically altered Poland and thinks "the world is prettier now" than it was under communism, his wife said Sunday.
Gertruda Grzebska, 63, said that for years she fed her husband Jan carefully with a spoon and moved his body to prevent bed sores.
"For 19 years he did not move or say anything," Grzebska told The Associated Press by phone. "He tried to say things but it couldn't be understood. Sometimes we pretended we understood."
"Now he spends his days sitting in a wheelchair and last weekend we took him out for a walk in his wheelchair," she said.
"He was so amazed to see the colorful streets, the goods," she said. "He says the world is prettier now" than it was 19 years ago, when Poland was still under communist rule.
"I could not talk or do anything, now it's much better," Jan Grzebski, 65, told in TVN24 Television in a weak but clear voice, lying in bed at his home in the northern city of Dzialdowo.
"I wake up at 7 a.m. and I watch TV," he said, smiling slightly.
Wojciech Pstragowski, a rehabilitation specialist, said Grzebski was shocked at the changes in Poland — especially its stores: "He remembered shelves filled with mustard and vinegar only" under communism. Poland shed communism in 1989 and has developed democracy and a market economy.
Despite doctors' predictions that he would not live, his wife never gave up hope and took care of him at home.
"I would fly into a rage every time someone would say that people like him should be euthanized, so they don't suffer," she told local daily Gazeta Dzialdowska. "I believed Janek would recover," she said, using an affectionate version of his name.
"This is my great reward for all the care, faith and love," she told the AP, weeping.
"He remembers everything that was going on around him," she said. "He talks about it and remembers the weddings of our children. He had fever around the time of the weddings, so he knew something big was taking place."
In 1988, when Poland was still run by a communist government, Grzebski fell into a coma after sustaining head injuries as he was attaching two train carriages. Doctors also found cancer in his brain and said he would not live. Grzebski's wife took him home.
Last October he fell sick with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized again, Grzebska said.
Doctors' efforts led to the first signs of recovery.
"He began to move and his speech was becoming clearer, although I was the only one to understand him," she said.
Intensive rehabilitation brought more effects.
"At the start, his speech was very unclear, now it is improving daily," said Pstragowski, who predicted his patient would soon walk. "I am sure that without the dedication of his wife, the patient would not have reached us in the (good) shape that he did."
That was the warning today from parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering, who appealed to Warsaw to drop its objection to the proposed system of voting.
Poland has complained that the qualified majority voting system outlined in the new-look draft treaty put forward by Berlin would favour Germany at the expense of countries like Poland and Spain.
But,speaking at a news conference at parliament, Poettering warned that Warsaw will be inflicting “great damage” on itself if it torpedoes the treaty.
He said the proposed voting system was “fair and democratic” and described the Polish veto threat as “very regrettable”.
“I have some sympathy with Poland and every country has the right to an input on the debate. But you cannot be against everything and I would ask our Polish friends to compromise on this in order not to stall the process further,” he said.
Former Italian interior minister Giuliano Amato, one of the architects of the stalled constitution, insisted that it would be possible to salvage the main elements of the treaty rejected in 2005 by voters in France and the Netherlands.
“This time we must put before our citizens something which is comprehensible and clear. I believe it is possible to have a document containing, say, 70 articles and 12,000 words and one which is easy to understand," he said.
“However, I realise that some people hold very different views to me on this and do not think Europe needs a constitution at all. Therefore, we have got to make the reforms I believe Europe needs acceptable and, as our British friends would say, show that they can deliver.”
Both Poettering and Amato, deputy chair of the European convention which drafted the original treaty, are participating today and tomorrow in a 'future of Europe' conference in parliament between parliament and the German Bundestag.
Amato said if the two assemblies can reach agreement on the way out of the current treaty impasse, this would be a “good omen” for Europe’s future.
Another keynote speaker, Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag, called on next week’s summit to ensure that the “substance” of the treaty is retained.
“I realise there are problems of ratification and what have you but I do not believe we should be taking a backward step at this stage,” he said.
President George W. Bush met with Polish President Lech Kaczynski in the seaside resort of Jurata on Friday to discuss U.S. plans to place missile interceptors in Poland as part of broader missile-defense shield.
Bush travelled to Poland from Germany, where he had attended the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations.
Before the meeting, Kaczynski was non-committal regarding the missile system, maintaining that negotiations with the U.S. would determine if Poland agreed to the system. Following the meeting, both presidents said they were on the same page. Kaczynski said, "I can tell you that as far as the missile defense system is concerned, the two parties fully agree."
Russia has been opposed to the U.S. plan and threatened to retaliate if missiles are situated in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that the U.S. and Russia should work together to set up the defensive system, but suggested that it should be based at a Russian radar base in Azerbaijan instead of in central Europe. He also suggested Turkey or Iraq as possible sites for the interceptor missiles, but not Poland.
President Kaczynski at a press conference following his meeting with Bush countered Russian concerns saying the system would be targeted at Iran and would have "no aggressive" element and would protect Europe.
"The Russian Federation can feel totally safe," Kaczynski said, with Bush at his side.
Doctors in Poland's national health care service, who have been on a partial strike for more than two weeks, denying all but emergency procedures, have stepped up their protests as the Government rejected their demands for a pay hike.
In 230 or Poland's 608 public hospitals, doctors are only offering emergency services and refusing to perform administrative duties like filling out paperwork.
"In a dozen [more] hospitals, more than 70% of doctors have handed in their notice," Krzysztof Bukiel, head of the OZZL doctors' union said.
Striking doctors are demanding that specialists earn PLN 7,500 per month, which would more than double their current pay.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the doctors' demands were "totally unrealistic," adding that meeting the demands would blow a hole in Poland's public finances. Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska reiterated the PM's position.
The Government has offered pay increases of 15% per year over the coming three years, but the doctors' union counters that salaries for other professions are rising faster.
Cannons boomed salutes from mountains overlooking the capital. Huge banners proclaimed "Proud to be Partners," and billboards read "President Bush in Albania Making History."
Albania has eagerly embraced democracy and idolizes the United States. Three stamps have been issued featuring Bush's picture and the Statue of Liberty, and the street in front of parliament has been renamed in his honor.
Tens of thousands of anti-war protestors gathered in Rome on Saturday to protest against U.S. President George W. Bush, who was in the Italian capital on an official visit.
Court convicts 15 for shootings of coal miners in 1981
Warsaw, Poland June 1, 2007
In a case likely to bring some closure with Poland's communist past, a court convicted 15 policemen (ZOMO) in the 1981 shooting deaths of nine miners protesting against martial law at the Wujek coal mine.
The court sentenced the police division leader, Romuald Cieslak, to 11 years in prison and declared the shootings a “Communist crime.” Fourteen officers under his command received two- and three-year terms.
The victims were among several hundred workers who barricaded themselves in the mines to protest the crackdown and the jailing of Solidarity leaders.
The court ruled that Cieslak gave the order to open fire on miners during protests at the Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy mines in December 1981, killing nine miners and wounding 25.
A regional court acquitted the officers in 1997 and 2001, but an appeals court overturned both verdicts. The new verdict is open to appeal.
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