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Lex Tusk. The Senate rejected the presidential amendment to the law on the commission for examining Russian influence

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There is a decision on “lex Tusk”. The Senate passed a resolution on the night from Thursday to Friday to reject the amendment to the act created on the initiative of President Andrzej Duda on the appointment of a commission to investigate Russian influence on Poland’s security.

There were 50 senators in favor of the rejection of “lex Tusk”, which was recommended by the Senate committees, and 44 against. No one abstained from voting. Now, the Senate’s decision will have to be addressed by the Sejm, which may reject the Senate’s position by an absolute majority of votes in the presence of at least half of the statutory number of deputies. During the debate held on Thursday evening, Senator Rapporteur Aleksander Pociej from the Civic Coalition presented the work of the Senate committees dealing with the amendment initiated by the president. He recalled that the committees had asked for the bill to be rejected in its entirety. Pociej said that it is not known why the president introduced the draft amendment to the act just after he signed the act on this matter. Senator KO presented a whole range of allegations against the amendment, above all the lack of – as he said – a definition of what it means that someone acted under Russian influence. He argued that the commission could attribute such action to anyone. – This committee can make arbitrary decisions – said Pociej. He also emphasized that during the work in the committees, experts as well Ombudsman they did not leave a dry thread on this project. According to him, the law on the commission for examining Russian influence “does not fit into any context of the normal functioning of the state and violates all possible standards of a democratic state.” The Senator of the Civic Coalition emphasized that the Polish legal order provides for an appropriate instrument, and that is the parliamentary investigative committee.

Paprocka: Senators were misled

These accusations were responded to by the President’s minister, Małgorzata Paprocka, who assessed that the senators had been misled as to the course of the commission’s work and the content of the amendment.

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The minister said that the amendment introduces provisions, inter alia, on the repeal of remedies, regulates issues related to professional secrecy, and also strengthens the openness of proceedings before the committee. She also pointed out that, according to the amendment, the commission may not include deputies and senators, and the chairman will be elected by members of the commission from among themselves, and not the prime minister, as it was provided for in the original act.

Senate meetingTomasz Gzell/PAP/EPA

Paprocka emphasized that the commission, pursuant to the amendment, may issue a decision that someone acted under Russian influence only under Art. 4 sec. 1, which “states that the commission is conducting proceedings aimed at clarifying the activities of persons in the years 2007-2022 against public officials defined in the glossary (…) or members of senior management.

– The act contains an appropriate definition, and then there is a closed catalog of 9 activities that the commission can investigate – said the presidential minister.

Politicians on the amendment of “lex Tusk”

Senator during the debate PIS Krzysztof Mróz said that a similar commission for Russian influence worked in France. He added that politicians in Germany are also considering setting up a commission modeled on the French one. Mróz said that in his opinion, the presidential amendment dispels the opposition’s fears that the commission is aimed at the PO chairman, former prime minister Donald Tusk. Senator KO Bogdan Zdrojewski, referring to the argument about the commission in France, said that it was “a box in justification”. As he said, this commission was established on a request Marine LePenwhich “wanted to explain itself” about a multi-million-euro loan from Moscow, but its real purpose was to hide everything related to these loans, and the committee itself did not explain anything.

The opposition senator also stated that “if someone wants to discover Russian influences in a month and a half” using the method contained in the act and the amendment, “he certainly does not want to discover them.” Also, Deputy Speaker of the Senate Bogdan Borusewicz (KO) took the position that if the committee is to have a month and a half to present the first proposals, it means that “they are already ready”. According to Borusewicz, the commission “has an inquisitorial character” and it is to carry out an investigation, prosecutor’s proceedings and a court decision on infamy. He also assessed that the amendment was only “powdering” the unacceptable structure of the commission.

The PiS senator expresses “little grudge” against the president

PiS senator Jerzy Czerwiński stated that he had “a slight grudge” against the president, because this amendment caused a new, unnecessary, according to him, discussion that “contributes nothing”. He assessed that the amendment is also a “softening” of the original act. “We just shy away from dishonest arguments based on falsehoods and lies,” he said. In this context, Czerwiński referred to statements that the commission’s report should be ready by the end of the current term of office, that the commission should have a month and a half to prepare it, so “it must already be ready”. The senator noted that the amendment removes an article saying that the committee will publish its first report by September 17, 2023.

The senator also said that the mother act is being amended in the direction suggested by the representatives of the opposition, but it is still wrong, so it’s probably because “characters who collaborated with Russia are being revealed.” He asked why representatives of the opposition “did not want” these regulations to come into force. “You’re afraid of exposure,” he added.

“Lex Tusk”. The fate of the act and amendments

On May 31, the law on the establishment of a commission for examining Russian influence on the internal security of the Republic of Poland in 2007-2022 entered into force, which the president signed a few days earlier, announcing at the same time that it would be referred to the Constitutional Tribunal. June 2 Andrzej Duda submitted a draft amendment to the act to the Sejm, which was adopted by the Chamber in mid-June.

This act is referred to, among others, by the opposition as “lex Tusk”, because in its opinion, the intention of the legislators was to prepare a law against the leader of the PO, Donald Tusk. The opposition also points out that, on the basis of the provisions of the act, it would be possible, among other things, to eliminate persons indicated by the commission from political public life.

According to the amendment, parliamentarians will not be able to sit in the commission for examining Russian influence, the countermeasures contained in the current act are being lifted (including the ban on performing functions related to the disposal of public funds for a period of up to 10 years), and the main subject of the commission’s statement will be recognition of that a given person does not guarantee proper performance of activities in the public interest. An appeal against the commission’s decision would be directed to the Court of Appeal in Warsaw.

Main photo source: Tomasz Gzell/PAP/EPA

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