I still don’t think it’s a scandal but since it has driven everything (even Roman Polański) off the TV screens, here’s some more about the Zbig Chlebowski affair (see here), going mainly on Robert Walenciak’s article in the current Przegląd. The businessmen in question are Ryszard Sobiesiak of Casino Polonia and Golden Play and Jan Kosek of Casino Centrum ATT. The politicians in question are, at last count, Chlebowski, Drzewiecki, Schetyna, Szejnfeld, Czuma and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The bill in question is one that would affect the gambling industry and has been working its way through the parliamentary system for months. One section of it proposes a “charge” on low-stake gambling machines (one-armed bandits) which is really just a tax. The PiS-friendly (more later) Central Anti-Corruption (CBA) Bureau tapped Sobiesiak’s phone and last week released transcripts to the PiS-friendly newspaper Rzeczpospolita in which Chlebowski was heard bragging that he had successfully blocked the taxation provision of the bill for a year but that it was hard work and it would be great if “Miro” and “Gześ” would help out. As I mentioned before, “Miro” and “Gześ” are thought to be references to the minister for sport and the deputy prime minister but Chlebowski knows many people of those names and cannot now remember which he meant – an excuse surely even a nine-year old would be ashamed to advance. So a businessman wanted a tax lifted from his business and the pro-business ruling party agrees to it. The sheep bleated for a low-tax party and a low-tax party is what they bah-bah bloody well got.
The scandal is really in the CBA’s actions. They leaked “operational materials” in an ongoing investigation to a newspaper. Why? Had they decided that Sobiesiak and Chlebowski were not under suspicion and that no crime had been committed? Tusk comes into the picture in August, which is when CBA chief Mariusz Kamiński (appointed by current opposition party PiS some years ago) told him what was going on. Some time later Sobiesiak stopped using phones and now people are speculating that Tusk warned him off or that maybe the CBA warned him off in order to make it look as if Tusk had warned him off. Such are the people Poles choose to have run their country for them. Look at the timing: this bombshell is dropped, scuttling, one presumes, any chance of bringing criminal charges against Chlebowski, which after all is the CBA’s job, just as Kamiński goes on trial for, among other things, faking documents in an investigation designed to entrap politicians. Also, presidential elections are just over a year away and it looks like Tusk (PO) will compete with Kaczyński (PiS).
Opinion polls indicate that people want the heads of Chlebowski (head of the PO “klub”*), Drzewiecki (minister for sport), Schetyna (deputy PM), Szejnfeld (a deputy minister in finances) and Czuma (minister for justice), but in all fairness I think that people, quite sensibly, support the resignation of any and all politicians as a matter of principle. If the pollsters had asked them should Barack Obama resign many would have said yes.
* No Pole I have ever encountered has been able to tell me what is meant by “klub” in this context.