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Kwasniewski Rejects Russian Criticism

Kwasniewski and Putin speaking on 28 September Prague, 29 September 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The exchange of diplomatic pleasantries during today's summit in Moscow between the Russian and Polish presidents was interrupted by a discussion on the Polish media's coverage of the Beslan hostage crisis.

The day before the meeting, the Kremlin issued a statement saying that, "against the background of global support for Russia during the tragedy in Beslan, a broad anti-Russian campaign in the Polish media -- supported by a number of official figures in Poland -- created a serious dissonance," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 29 September. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko echoed this statement in an interview posted on the ministry's website ( on 27 September. "The Polish government sharply and unambiguously condemned the terrorist act in Beslan and expressed solidarity with Russia," Yakovenko said. "At the same time, it was noticed that against the background of the sympathetic reaction of the Polish people the coverage of these events in the Polish media demonstrated a certain anti-Russian prejudice."

During a 27 September joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged that the leaders had discussed the Kremlin's impression of Polish media's coverage of Beslan and that Putin had repeated Moscow's criticism. Although Kwasniewski repeated his government's solidarity with Russia in the war against international terrorism, he made no apologies for the Polish media. He told Putin that "there is no political center in Poland" that orders up certain types of media coverage.

The Kremlin, Kwasniewski said according to "Izvestiya" on 29 September, "has an entire analysis of publications in the Polish media that claims that articles about the tragic events in Northern Ossetia was extremely negative."
Kwasniewski told Putin that "there is no political center in Poland" that orders up certain types of media coverage.

"I do not have such an analysis," Kwasniewski added. "I would like to say only that the media in Poland are free. But just as they are free, they are also responsible for what they write." He added that it was natural for the media to discuss such issues as the situation in Chechnya, the recent presidential elections there, and the situation of Chechen displaced persons and refugees in the context of the Beslan events, "Vremya novostei" reported on 29 September.