Whom the Polish party in Lithuania actually represent?

Waldemar Tomaczewksi with the ribbon of St. George
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Political scientists and analysts praise the Polish ethnic minority as the most civic-minded electorate. Representatives of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union are constantly in majority coalitions. That said, lately, they have been in the focus of news media not because they performed something good in the name of the minority they represent, Daiva Ausėnaitė wrote in Lrytas.lt

Does the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania adequately represent Lithuanian Poles’ interests? Why is its unconcealed pro-Russian nature viewed with such leniency?

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania was registered in 1994. Back then, Waldemar Tomaszewski was the party’s founding initiative group’s coordinator. After five years, he went on to become the party’s chairman and has led the party ever since.

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In 2016, the party changed names and became the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union.

“It is clear that this political power is a parasitic political power. Its main political capital and mobilisation depend on conflict. The more tension, the more acute the conflict between the Polish minority and the “titular nation”, the more acute the conflict and disagreements, the coolness of relations between the Polish and Lithuanian official governments, the better for this political power,” political analyst Vytautas Bruveris said on the Lietuvos Rytas show 24/7.

“They put too little emphasis on ethnic minority questions – the ethnic minority law, the writing of surnames, Lithuanian language exams – these are questions, which concern all ethnic minorities.

These questions must be resolved, but they haven’t emphasised these questions at all when negotiating on the coalition agreement,” Act of Independence signatory, jurist Česlavas Okinčicas said.

Tomaszewski and his relation to Russia

The head of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania W. Tomaszewski is infamous for his ambiguous statements about Russia and the Crimean annexation, five years ago, the politician appeared at Victory Day events wearing the ribbon of St. George, which has become a symbol of the Ukrainian separatists.

The Polish party’s Seimas group member Irina Rozova has landed at the centre of attention due to her not being granted a permit to work with classified information due to her concealing contacts with foreign diplomats. A report has leaked to the media, which stated that the member of Seimas continued associating with Russian diplomats even after being cautioned and prior to this interacted with a Russian intelligence officer.

“I am not against this party participating in coalitions, but the question is, who the coalitions are comprised of, what that Russian party is. What sort of people are they? When there’s a slew of people, who are directly linked to Vladimir Putin or various institutions under V. Putin, this poses a threat, particularly the party chairwoman’s contacts with the Russian embassy here in Lithuania. I believe that this does not honour the Electoral Action of Poles and such partners are unnecessary to them,” Č. Okinčicas stated.

“This is an incredible paradox, particularly when looking at Poland, where many a politician or public figure coming from Poland will be in cultural shock or cognitive dissonance when realising that his nationals in Lithuania are pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin, but that’s just how it is,” V. Bruveris said.

The Poles in the ruling coalition

This summer, when entering the “Farmers’” coalition, the Electoral Action of Poles had a number of demands. Raising children’s money to 100 euro, fighting youth unemployment – exempting those starting to work before the age of 26 from taxes. There was also an emphasis on greater attention on local roadways, gravel roads and car parking.

This last point, Jaroslavas Narkevičius began to enact immediately upon becoming minister of transport and communications. He allocated funding for street asphalting in his own electoral district and by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ home.

J. Narkevičius also faced criticism over his visit to the United Arab Emirates, dining at the country’s expense, his daughter living in the Seimas hotel and the dissolution of the Lithuanian Post board.

Another member of the Polish Seimas group that frequently appears in the media is Zbigniew Jedzinski. His son Edvardas also illegally made us of the parliamentary privilege of the Seimas hotel.

“It’s not that there are no educated Poles, who could be ministers. An example in history was when Jaroslavas Neverovičius was the minister of energy, probably everyone at the time and particularly Lithuanians as well recognised that he was one of the best of all the ministers at the time. This shows that among us in Lithuania we have many capable, educated individuals, who could freely manage individual ministries in Lithuania,” Č. Okinčicas said.

Questions from Poland

A few weeks ago, member of Seimas Justas Džiugelis appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office with a request to present information on whether an official request has been received from the Polish prosecutors over Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania member Michal Mackevičius’ supposed criminal activities in falsifying accounts and for unsuitable bookkeeping for funding from the Aid to Poles in the East fund.

The Polish prosecutors’ office has presented member of Seimas M. Mackevičius with an invitation to appear at questioning, however, the MP refused to appear.

M. Mackevičius has for more than a year avoided answering questions from the Polish prosecutors, covering himself with the legal immunity of a member of Seimas. M. Mackevičius himself refuses to comment.

“I’ve nothing to comment, I really won’t,” he responded briefly.

Political scientists say that so far, W. Tomaszewski’s Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania remains the main choice for the Polish ethnic minority.

“The Electoral Action of Poles and its leadership, its nomenclature is so far undeniably dominating in regard to our local Polish minority and so far, there are no premises for the situation to change,” V. Bruveris says.

According to the Electoral Action of Poles’ website, the party currently has 2204 members.

lrytas.lt
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