Prague, April 23 (RFE/RL) - Poland's military
prosecutors yesterday dropped an espionage case against former Prime
Minister Jozef Oleksy. The prosecutors said they had failed to find
direct and definitive evidence to press criminal charges.
But the decision stops short of fully exonerating this former
communist functionary turned top social democratic politician.
Oleksy's case is certain to remain a contentious issue in Polish
The case was launched last December, when Interior Minister Andrzej
Milczanowski formally accused Prime Minister Oleksy in a speech to
the Sejm (parliament's lower house) of having been during many years
(from 1983 until early 1995) knowingly maintaining contacts with, and
passing sensitive state information to, Soviet and later Russian
The accusation was based on evidence gathered by Polish intelligence officers. Milczanowski demanded that the military prosecutors investigate the case. milczanowski resigned day later.
Oleksy denied the charges, although he admitted having frequently
met Russian diplomats Vladimir Alganov and Grogori Iakimichin,
who later proved to be intelligence officers. Oleksy said that the
charges resulted from a conspiracy of Polish intelligence officers
directed against him, and were but a political provocation mounted by
former President Lech Walesa and his supporters within the service.
But Oleksy was forced to resign the office in January. He
subsequently was unanimously elected as head of the post-communist
Yesterday, Colonel Slawomir Gorzkiewicz, a deputy military
prosecutor in Warsaw in charge of the case, told a press conference
that he decided to close the case "as a result of finding no crime."
Gorzkiewicz said that the evidence provided by the
counter-intelligence service had been circumstantial "meager...ambiguous and raising a number of justified doubts." He
went on to say that "two people in the world know the truth about
this matter for sure: Jozef Oleksy and Vladimir Alganov, nobody
else." He also insinuated that the allegations against Oleksy might
have been prepared by Russian intelligence itself.
Reacting to this statement, Milczanowski told the Warsaw newspaper
"Gazeta Wyborcza" today that in his opinion the evidence in the case
had been sufficient for pressing charges and sending the matter to
court. He also ruled out any clear Russian interference.
Milczanowski's view was supported by former head of Polish
counter-intelligence Colonel Konstanty Miodowicz, who told the same
newspaper that the evidence was sufficient to prosecute.
Oleksy told a press conference in Warsaw today that the prosecutors' decision "only confirmed that I am innocent." He went on to say that the case itself was but an attempt to destroy the social-democratic party and that "those responsible did not hide those goals."
The decision has already prompted a series of predictably diverse
Izabella Sierakowska, ranking social-democratic politician and
leader of post-communist labor organization, said yesterday that
Milczanowski and "others who were involved" should be brought to
court to face charges of willful defamation of Oleksy's character.
Lech Walesa intimated in response to questions by press reporters
that the decision reflected the interests of the government dominated
by the post-communists, and warned that the current opposition would
"return to this matter after the parliamentary elections" next year.
Other opposition leaders tended to share this view.
Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said in a statement released
yesterday that he would demand that all evidence related to the case be made public. But he said today in response to reporters' questions that he was opposed to the dismissal from the service of those officers responsible for the investigation of the Oleksy case.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski, whom Oleksy succeeded as head of
the post-communist social-democratic party, has been silent.
But the Oleksy case is certain to affect politics in Poland for some time to come. This is because it concerns one of the most important Polish politicians, a man who in the minds of many personifies those former communist and pro-Soviet loyalists who now present themselves as convinced democrats and ardent Polish patriots. The opposition is certain to put this change to doubt.
This is also because the case has touched at the most sensitive and
important element of the nascent institutional structure of the
democratic government.It affects the stability and authority of the
government, striking at its very organizational heart.
And it puts into question the integrity and loyalty of the entire
Polish security organization.
Within days, a special parliamentary committee is to rule on whether the security agencies acted correctly in conducting their
The committee's initial finding, made public several weeks ago, was
that there had been no conspiracy by the services, nor had there been an attempt to fabricate any evidence against Oleksy.
The next parliamentary elections are likely to take place in the
spring or summer months of next year.