Polish PM’s right-hand man accused of lobbying for Russian business
Poland’s conservative opposition party, the Law and Justice (PiS) party, accused Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s close associate, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, of lobbying to help a Russian company take over one of Poland’s strategic chemical players, the local media reported May 13.
“According to the media, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki lobbied to help Russian companies take over Polish [nitrogen] factories, PiS spokesperson Adam Hofman announced at a press conference in Parliament,” TVN24 wrote.
PiS made its allegations based on a report by former-Internal Security Agency (ABW) Chief Krzysztof Bondaryk. The report allegedly accuses Bielecki of illegal lobbying to help Russian companies acquire shares in Polish chemical plant ZA Tarnow.
The reported scandal hit the headlines just weeks after former-Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski was forced to publicly explain his links to Russian fertilizer importer Acron following accusations that he lobbied the government to help the Russian player invest in ZA Tarnow.
Kwasniewski posted a link on Facebook explaining that he was approached by Acron’s president, renowned philanthropist, Viatcheslav Kantor, who asked what the Polish investment climate was like in Poland with regard to Russian companies.
Kwasniewski maintains that he did not feel competent to answer the question. At a meeting of the Economic Council, with Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, he subsequently mentioned that there was a Russian company, which he knew of, that was a potential, serious investor for ZA Tarnow.
Bielecki heads the Economic Council, a body which is tasked with advising Prime Minister Donald Tusk on economic and business matters. According to CEEInsight sources, the Economic Council is de facto responsible for many policy changes and business decisions made by the PM.
PiS’s Hofman told TVN24 that he thought Bondaryk’s “becoming interested in the activities carried out by Donald Tusk’s closest friend and colleague, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki,” should be investigated. He also posed the question whether this interest “meant that he was forced to leave his post.”
Tusk previously announced that his internal security chief resigned from the post due to a planned shake-up at the agency.
Meanwhile, the ABW has denied the existence of the Bondaryk report. Politicians from the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party have also said that PiS’s accusations against Bielecki are absurd. Bielecki denied any involvement in lobbying activity.
Acron, the Russian company at the center of the scandal, is listed on the Moscow and London bourses. Despite having roots in Russia, it currently only sells some 19 percent of its production quota at home. The company owns mines in Russia and Canada, and logistical centers in Russia, China and Estonia.
Photo by Grzegorz Hawalej. Courtesy of Polish news agency PAP/EPA.