Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Tusk gets raucous welcome in Warsaw as witness in spy case

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Former Polish Prime Minister, European Council President Donald Tusk (C) arrives at the Central Railway Station in Warsaw, Poland, on April 19, 2017. Tusk is scheduled to appear in the Warsaw prosecutor’s office where he will testify as a witness in the investigation on the cooperation of the Polish Military Counterintelligence Service with the Russian Federal Security Service. / AFP PHOTO / PAP / Bartlomiej Zborowski

Throngs of supporters greeted EU president Donald Tusk on Wednesday — as did his opponents — as he appeared in Warsaw to testify in an investigation of two former military counter-intelligence chiefs.

Carrying European Union flags, supporters of the former liberal Polish prime minister chanted “We’re with you, Donald” as they escorted him from the train station to the prosecutor’s office.

His opponents, meanwhile, held up signs showing Tusk dressed as a prisoner.

Tusk, an arch-rival of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the conservative governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, had been summoned for closed-door questioning in March but was unable to appear because of a previous European Parliament commitment.

The original summons came days after EU leaders gave Tusk another term as president despite strong opposition from Poland. An angry Warsaw accused the EU of “cheating”.

Supporters at the train station chanted “27 to 1, Tusk beat Kaczynski” in reference to Tusk’s EU re-election, where Poland cast the sole vote against him.

“I am very critical of what’s happening at the moment in our country, but everything rests in the hands of the people,” Tusk told reporters after arriving in the Polish capital.

Before boarding his train in the northern city of Sopot, his hometown, Tusk had denounced the prosecutors’ summons, saying: “I have no doubt that this is part of a political witch-hunt.”

The probe centres on Generals Janusz Nosek and Piotr Pytel, who are suspected of having “overstepped their duties by collaborating with services of a foreign state” without authorisation.

According to Polish media reports, at issue is an agreement struck with Russia’s FSB intelligence service — the successor to the KGB — shortly after a 2010 plane crash in Russia which killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and scores of senior Polish officials.

Tusk was prime minister at the time.

Some reports suggest the agreement was aimed at cooperating on the withdrawal of Polish troops from NATO operations in Afghanistan at the time, while others say it allowed FSB agents to visit the headquarters of Poland’s SKW military counter-intelligence agency unfettered.

Kaczynski has accused Tusk of “moral responsibility” for the death of his brother Lech in the plane crash.

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