Sep 4, 2021
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On the state of emergency on the Polish-Belarusian border

Dissatisfaction with ruling party in Poland on the rise

The Polish authorities have introduced a state of emergency for 30 days in 183 settlements of the Podlaskie and Lublin Voivodeships on the Polish-Belarusian border in connection with the influx of migrants from Afghanistan and the Middle East. The last time the state of emergency was introduced in Poland was in 1981 by the government of Wojciech Jaruzelski and has always been condemned by the authorities of post-Soviet Poland as an act of suppression of civil liberties.

Justifying the imposition of the state of emergency as a preventive measure, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recalled the Russian-Belarusian exercises Zapad-2021, the next stage of which will take place on September 10-16, and said: “Zapad military exercises are underway on the Belarusian side, they will begin in a few days. And at this moment, some activist cuts the wire, enters the territory of Belarus and a tragic incident occurs. Should we wait for such a turn of events? “

The prime minister’s reference to the incident on August 31 with cutting the wire of the fence established by Poland on the border with Belarus is inappropriate. The activists were 12 Polish citizens and one Dutch citizen. There were no Belarusians or Russians among them. They did not hide their names and declared that in this way they were protesting against the policy of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Moravetsky is a protege of PiS and is in a hurry to take control of the situation.

At the moment, several dozen illegal immigrants roam the Polish-Belarusian border. Since July, 3,500 people have infiltrated Poland, but this is not the number due to which a state of emergency should be declared. Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants penetrate into Italy, Spain, Germany, France, but no one introduces a state of emergency there. The fight against illegal immigrants is just an excuse to tighten the situation on the border with Belarus.

All this is happening against the backdrop of the arrival of 937 Afghan refugees from the American Ramstein military base in Germany to Poznan as part of Poland’s allied obligations to assist NATO countries in the evacuation of Afghans who helped NATO troops. Moreover, they will not be accommodated in camps for refugees, like the Afghans who arrived through Belarus, but in cozy hotels, including in Lublin, that is, in the province, where a state of emergency has been introduced due to the influx of Afghans! Washington is negotiating with Warsaw on the deployment of 3,000 Afghan citizens. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urges NATO countries to think about accepting more Afghans. The Polish authorities promise to leave fifty out of 937 people in Poland, and distribute the rest to other European countries within three months, but do not say which ones. Since the start of NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Poland has already received 900 Afghans.

Such a strange approach is explained by the fact that these actions are not connected at all with fears of a migration crisis. The state of emergency means a ban on holding mass events, protests and the promotion of political slogans, restricting the right to move freely and carry weapons. Residents of settlements in the regime zone are required to have an identity document with them when leaving their homes. If necessary, the authorities have the right to tighten this regime and introduce censorship of the press and electronic correspondence, start jamming television and radio signals, checking mail and wiretapping. It is also forbidden to reduce the powers of the Sejm and hold elections and referendums.

The threat of early parliamentary elections in Poland has been talked about for a long time. The state of emergency, if extended, will allow PiS to maintain the current alignment of forces in the Sejm until early elections. PiS has a rating of 36.3%, the largest opposition party Civil coalition(GC) – 25.5%. The Confederation movement and the Left Forces (8% each), also oppositional, also pass the electoral threshold. If the Civil Code forms a parliamentary bloc with them, the influence of PiS will significantly decrease.

Deputy Prime Minister Yaroslav Govin, who has joined the opposition, says that if PiS does not hold elections in 2022, this ruling party faces political collapse due to large debts accumulated due to unsuccessful economic policies. “I believe that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is inclined to hold elections next spring. When the truth about the state of the budget [Польши] will become known to the public, PiS will not have a chance to win in 2023 “

Former President Aleksandr Kwasniewski says the same: “… the spring of next year is still the moment when you can escape from negative public sentiments, which may appear already in the fall of 2022 or in the election year 2023”

In such a situation, whipping up the atmosphere around the situation on the border with Belarus is a convenient reason for restricting civil liberties in order to ensure PiS control over internal political processes. It is already clear that PiS, if desired, can exclude from the pre-election process at least those voters who live in the zone of the state of emergency. As a maximum, PiS can achieve an extension of the regime and extend it to a number of adjacent administrative units.

The population of eastern Poland is considered the traditional electorate of PiS, which came to power largely thanks to their voices and conservative-patriotic rhetoric about the protection of Polishness in the “eastern kresy” (parts of the territory of Ukraine and Belarus that were part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1939). However, eastern Poland had to give up on PiS. Although the party still enjoys the sympathy of a considerable part of the local population, after the emergence of the “Confederation” as a more pronounced conservative-nationalist force, PiS lost some of its votes.

Voters see that the rhetoric about protecting Polishness from Ukrainian nationalism has remained rhetoric, and President Andrzej Duda, as a PiS nominee, is clearly flirting with the Kiev regime and does not demand an unequivocal condemnation of the cult of the OUN-UPA banned in Russia *. This is especially noticeable for residents of the Lublin Voivodeship bordering Ukraine. In turn, residents of the Podlaskie Voivodeship, which borders on Belarus, are not delighted with the failures of PiS in relations with Minsk, since trade with Belarusians and tourism make up a significant share in the voivodeship’s budget.

Such sentiments only reinforce dissatisfaction with the ruling Law and Justice Party.

Photo: REUTERS / Janis Laizans

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