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Lex Tusk. Reporters Without Borders on the bill on the commission to investigate Russian influence and freedom of the press

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The international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders in its latest communication called on the European Commission and the European Parliament to prevent the use of the newly established commission to investigate Russian influence for a “witch hunt” in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

President Andrzej Duda announced the submission yesterday amendment of the act about the commission for examining Russian influence, called the “lex Tusk” commission. The draft has already been submitted to the Sejm. The president’s announcement comes just days after he signed a bill criticized by many experts and politicians, and about which the US expressed great concern. United States and the European Union.

“An obvious threat to press freedom in Poland”

On Saturday, Reporters Without Borders commented on the provisions of the act. They recalled that the act was called “lex Tusk”, although they noted that, in their opinion, the new provisions also constitute “a clear threat to press freedom in Poland”. The statement also noted that Andrzej Duda announced that he would refer the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal, and then amend the bill, although the bill is already in force.

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“The legitimate purpose of protecting national security must not be used as a reason to intimidate journalists critical of the government. Until the Russian Influence Committee is explicitly subject to confidentiality of sources and effective judicial scrutiny, a witch hunt is to be feared. The new law undermines freedom press, one of the democratic values ​​close to Poland, in the name of which Poland is a leader among European countries, helping Ukrainians in the fight against Russian aggression,” commented Pavol Szalai, head of the Reporters Without Borders Office for the European Union and the Balkans.

“We call on the European Commission and the European Parliament to examine the law in this light and take a firm position,” he added.

Reporters Without Borders quoted government spokesman Piotr Mueller as saying that the commission is “democratic” and its activities are “subject to two-stage judicial control”. Reporters Without Borders noted here that the commission’s decision can only be appealed to the administrative court. It was also added that “it is not clear whether the procedures set out in the act will ensure effective protection of journalistic secrecy”.

Government spokesman about “lex Tusk”TVN24

In the further part of the statement, the words of the Deputy Minister of National Defense Wojciech Skurkiewicz, who he told journalists in the Sejm that many journalists should also appear before the committeewho “also have some kind of pro-Russian influences in their activities.”

The statement was also quoted Jarosław Kaczyńskiwho named TVN24 reporter Mateusz Grzymkowski “representative of the Kremlin” after the journalist asked the PiS president about his trust in the head of the Ministry of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak in connection with the case of the remains of the rocket found near Bydgoszcz.

Kaczyński to TVN24 reporter: I am forced to treat you as a representative of the Kremlin

Kaczyński to TVN24 reporter: I am forced to treat you as a representative of the KremlinTVN24

Poland in the press freedom ranking

In the Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking, Poland is ranked 57th (compared to 66th in 2022).

Poland’s position in the media freedom ranking dropped significantly after the takeover of power by Law and Justice. In 2015, Reporters Without Borders ranked Poland in 18th place. In 2016, already at 47th, in 2017 – at 54th, in 2018 – at 58th, in 2019 – at 59th, in 2020 – at 62nd, and in 2021 at 64th.

READ MORE: Poland’s new position in the media freedom ranking. “There has been no significant improvement in the situation”

The whole conversation with Pavol Szalai, head of the European Union and the Balkans Office of Reporters Without Borders

An interview with Pavol Szalai, head of the Office for European Union and Balkan Affairs of Reporters Without BordersTVN24

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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