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Poet must apologise to leading paper

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 21.07.2011 12:35
75-year-old poet Jaroslaw Rymkiewicz has been ordered to apologise to Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading national newspaper, for claiming that its editors hate Poland and Christianity and are “spiritual heirs of the Communist Party of Poland.”


A district court in Warsaw has ruled that besides the apology to the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily, the poet must pay 5000 zloty (1250 euro), in this case funnelled towards social initiatives, in place of damages.

The whole affair was triggered by the so-called Defenders of the Cross saga of 2010, a stand-off that demonstrated the polarisation of the nation in its reaction to the Smolensk air tragedy, in which President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died on their way to commemorate the victims of the Katyn massacre by the Soviet NKVD 70 years previously.

Writing for the conservative Gazeta Polska weekly newspaper, Rymkiewicz championed those who had defended an erected cross outside the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

“Poles, standing before it [the cross], are saying that they want to stay Poles. It’s precisely this, which now inspires such rage, such wrath, such hatred – as in the editors of Gazeta Wyborcza for example,” Rymkiewicz wrote.

Rymkiewicz argued that Gazeta Wyborcza’s editors were in many instances “the sons or grandchildren” of members of the communist party, and thus “raised in a such a way that they must live in hatred of the Polish cross.”

The poet stands by his words, although he has said that he did not mean all of the editors of Gazeta Wyborcza were descended from communists, but just those who founded it and “gave it a face.”

Gazeta Wyborcza’s chief editor, Adam Michnik, was the son of a prominent communist, yet in the 1960s he reacted against his father’s legacy and went on to become a leading light in the Solidarity movement.

Both Michnik and co-editor Seweryn Blumsztajn are of Jewish descent, a factor which led one anti-xenophobic group to accuse Rymkiewicz and his lawyer of a thinly-veiled anti-Semitic attack.

Acccording to the Open Republic Association (Otwarta Rzeczpospolita), the proposed calling of witnesses from the state-sponsored Institute of National Remembrance - ostensibly to clarify the “communist” backgrounds of Gazeta Wyborcza editors - was a provocative move that, “under the guise of providing evidence, invokes the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes.” (nh/jb)

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