Documents show Lech Walesa collaborated with regime: official

WARSAW, Poland -- Recently seized documents show that Poland's former president and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa was a paid informant for the communist-era secret security service from 1970-76, the head of Poland's history institute said Thursday.

See Full Article

Walesa, the icon of Poland's successful struggle to topple communism and the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has previously acknowledged signing a commitment to be an informant, but has insisted he never acted on it. In 2000 he was cleared by a special court, which said it found no evidence of collaboration.

The head of the state National Remembrance Institute, Lukasz Kaminski, said that documents seized this week from the home of the last communist interior minister, the late Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, include a commitment to provide information that is signed with Walesa's name and codename, "Bolek." There are also pages of reports and receipts for money, signed "Bolek."

Walesa, 72, in a written message from Venezuela where he is travelling, suggested the papers are fake.

"There can exist no documents coming from me. I will prove that in court," he said.

The 279 pages of documents seem to be authentic and will be made public in due course, Kaminski told a news conference. He said historians need time to analyze the content of the documents.

Antoni Dudek, the institute's leading historian who has studied Walesa, said the impact would not be that great unless some evidence emerged that Walesa continued to be an informant after he had founded the Solidarity freedom movement.

"Lech Walesa is the symbol of Poland's struggle for freedom, he is the symbol of Solidarity and nothing can destroy that, unless we learn that he continued that collaboration," Dudek said.

It is of great interest what other documents will be found among the seized files, he said.

According to Kaminski, five more packets of seized documents have not yet been opened. Prosecutors and police were also searching Kiszczak's summer house.

Communism and Moscow's control were imposed on Poland and other countries in the region after World War II and were despised and opposed by most people. Secret security was the regime's harsh tool for keeping the people under control, using personal information to blackmail and discredit opponents and dissidents.

The secret service also used to fabricate information on people, a fact that calls for meticulous confirmation of the authenticity of any compromising documents that emerge. The fate of the files was a major concern after the communists lost power in 1989, with reports saying that they were fabricating new documents and burning or hiding others.

The papers concerning Walesa came to light on Tuesday, when Kiszczak's widow offered to sell the institute documents concerning secret informer "Bolek." She demanded 90,000 zlotys ($23,000; 20,000 euros).

Prosecutors seized the documents the same day, because the law requires important historic papers to be handed in.

Walesa was the icon of Poland's and Eastern Europe's drive for freedom that abolished communism and brought down the Iron Curtain in 1989, without bloodshed. He founded and led Solidarity from 1980, when it was born out of worker protests, and through communist-imposed martial law. He led Solidarity in round-table negotiations with the communists in 1989 that ushered in democratic and economic change.

He was Poland's first popularly elected president from 1990 to 1995, but following a term of office where his style was perceived as authoritarian, he painfully lost a re-election bid to ex-communist Aleksander Kwasniewski.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Women will march again with aim to become a political force

    World News CTV News
    Activists are returning to the streets a year after more than 1 million people rallied at women's marches around the world with a message of female empowerment and protest against President Donald Trump. Hundreds of marches worldwide and a signature rally in Las Vegas this weekend are aimed at converting anger and enthusiasm into political force. Source
  • Egypt's el-Sissi will run for a second term

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO - Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has announced he will run for a second, four-year term in elections due in March. The former general made the announcement in televised comments carried live on Friday. Source
  • Sea King helicopters finally ready for full retirement on the East Coast

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - Three geriatric military aircraft flew in formation above Halifax harbour Friday, marking the long-overdue retirement of the 54-year-old East Coast Sea King fleet. Several journalists were taken for a ride to record the flight, which comes one week before the helicopters end their operational duties on the East Coast at 12 Wing Shearwater. Source
  • Van full of dogs stolen near Toronto, suspect considered armed: police

    Canada News CTV News
    A police force east of Toronto is searching for a stolen van that they say contains 13 to 15 dogs. They are warning that the “suspect is considered armed.” Durham Regional Police said on Twitter that a white 2008 Chevrolet Uplander van was stolen around 11:30 a.m. Source
  • 3 former MMA rail workers acquitted in Lac-Mégantic disaster trial

    Canada News CBC News
    Jurors have acquitted the three former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) railway employees charged with criminal negligence causing death in the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. Locomotive engineer Tom Harding, 56, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and operations manager Jean Demaître, 53, were all charged after the derailment of a runaway fuel train early on July 6, 2013. Source
  • Members-only men's group targeting B.C. businesses online

    Canada News CTV News
    WARNING: This story contains content some readers may find offensive A private, men-only Facebook group has been used to flood multiple B.C. businesses with offensive reviews and circulate intimate images of women without consent, CTVNews.ca has learned. Source
  • Las Vegas police not expecting to charge Mandalay Bay shooter's girlfriend

    World News CBC News
    Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters Friday that investigators believe Las Vegas gunman Steven Paddock acted alone in the Oct. 1 shooting at the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel. The sheriff said investigators have not uncovered a specific reason why Paddock decided to open fire from his highrise hotel suite, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds as a country music festival was held below at street level. Source
  • Nations flex nuclear muscles as fears of new arms race grow

    World News CBC News
    Welcome to The National Today, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday. Source
  • Probe: Las Vegas shooting suspect's motive remains a mystery

    World News CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- Investigators have still not discovered what motivated Stephen Paddock to embark on the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history but determined that he researched SWAT tactics ahead of the massacre and investigated other possible targets, including the famed California beach in Santa Monica, officials said Friday. Source
  • Alberta investigating ice-cream-eating bear at Dairy Queen drive-thru

    Canada News CBC News
    The province is investigating a video that shows a Kodiak bear from a central Alberta zoo being taken through a fast-food drive-thru and being hand-fed ice cream by the restaurant's owner. The video, posted on social media by the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail, shows a one-year-old captive bear named Berkley leaning out the driver's side of a truck's window for her treat at the local Dairy Queen. Source