August 20, 2019

Polish Government Hit by Hate-Campaign Allegations Before Polls
(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki demanded immediate explanations after a report said the Justice Ministry was engaged in a smear-campaign against judges who criticized government reforms.The scandal comes 52 days before Poland holds parliamentary elections, which will determine the country’s course after a four-year drift away from the European Union’s mainstream and the bloc’s democratic values. The Justice Ministry has not yet responded to allegations in the article that was published on Onet.pl, one of Poland’s largest news portals.According to Onet.pl, Deputy Justice Minister Lukasz Piebiak coordinated a campaign to discredit judges, including by publishing fabricated and personal information about them on social media. The Justice Ministry has orchestrated a series of judicial revamps since 2015, which give politicians more sway over courts and have triggered unprecedented lawsuits by the EU over whether they adhere to rule-of-law standards.“This is an assault on the judicial branch coming from the Justice Ministry, so the scope of this scandal is beyond any scale,” Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University, said by phone. “In normal circumstances this should provoke an earthquake and a wave of dismissals at the Justice Ministry. Will is happen two months ahead of elections? I don’t think so.”Morawiecki’s spokesman Piotr Muller said before a cabinet meeting that the premier expects explanations from Piebiak by the end of the day. The Justice Ministry’s press office wasn’t immediately available for comment when reached by phone.To contact the reporter on this story: Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at mstrzelecki1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Wojciech Moskwa, Torrey ClarkFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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