In a recent TVP Info interview, Tomasz Sakiewicz, the editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Polska” and “Gazeta Polska Codziennie,” directed a sharp message to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, holding him responsible for the current state of affairs. Sakiewicz criticized the atmosphere surrounding media freedom, expressing concern about the potential for journalists to face intimidation and police intervention.
The backdrop of Sakiewicz’s remarks is a proposed resolution titled “Restoring Legal Order and Impartiality in Public Media and PAP (the Polish Press Agency – ed.),” put forth by a group of lawmakers from Civic Coalition (KO), Poland 2050-TD, the Left, and PSL-TD. The resolution calls on the State Treasury, represented by the governing body of public radio and television companies and PAP, to take “corrective actions.” In essence, this is perceived as a move towards intervention in public media and its potential takeover.
Sakiewicz accused Prime Minister Tusk directly, stating, “You, Mr. Tusk, are responsible for this! For reinstating this atmosphere, for making journalists fear whether the police will enter here. Is this a normal state?” The editor drew parallels between the current situation and the atmosphere during the 1988 strike at the University of Warsaw, recalling the anticipation of potential intervention.
Describing the current power dynamics as an assault on basic civil rights, Sakiewicz emphasized, “Power has forgotten itself; power is attacking the media.” He voiced concerns about a reminiscent atmosphere on the corridors of Woronicza, where journalists nervously question whether the police will intervene. Sakiewicz held Prime Minister Tusk accountable for creating an environment where journalists fear for their safety, asking, “Is this the kind of state we were supposed to build? A state where journalists wait for the police at night? Is this how the state should look?”
Sakiewicz strongly condemned the use of force and intimidation in effecting change, emphasizing that such actions violate standards worse than those of a banana republic. He criticized the government for threatening journalists with imprisonment, stating, “They have the right to change everything, but they must not do it through force, intimidation, or by threatening to imprison journalists.”
Additionally, Sakiewicz raised concerns about the government determining who qualifies as a journalist, drawing an analogy to Russia. He suggested that Prime Minister Tusk may have spent too much time with Russian President Putin, adopting certain practices: “I think Donald Tusk spent too much time with Putin because he learned some of these customs.