INTERVIEW: political prisoner Piskorski’s release ‘not related to Lavrov’s first Poland visit in years’
By Andrei Vypolzov, Kaliningrad - Warsaw
Five days ago, a well-known social and political activist Mateusz Piskorski , accused by the Polish special service of espionage for Russia and China, was released in Poland under what can only be termed as “house arrest”. He gave the first free interview to Andrei Vypolzov.
Image – Piskorski selfie from car, May 20th in Warsaw.
Interviewed by Andrei Vypolzov, Kaliningrad – Warsaw
– Mateusz, what was the Polish prison condition like? They say that in European places of detention it is comfortable to sit: gym equipment, good food, albeit slow, but Wi-Fi …
– ( laughs)) I have the first experience of being in a remand prison in Poland. But what I saw and what other “guests” who saw insulators in Western Europe and Russia told me about one thing: the conditions behind the Polish grids are the Middle Ages. I think that I will deal with this issue in the future as a human rights activist. About the fact that “there is Wi-Fi” is, of course, a lie. What is the Internet, if access is limited even to ordinary telephone communication, although the law allows prisoners to call. In fact, there are a lot of Polish-speaking Russian-language pre-trial detention centers – Ukrainians, Belarusians. Saw them, talked more than once. They are not criminals at all, they just accidentally fell under false accusations in Poland. So, these people for years can not call their loved ones, and some are deprived of even telephone communication with a lawyer.
The prisoners who eat prison food, quickly begin to ache, because filler is added to the “dishes”, which makes the teeth crumble. If people close to you do not transfer money for decent food, then you are doomed to the disease. And there are no doctors and no medical care. As I understand it, the situation in prisons has worsened with the arrival of the current Polish regime. During the previous government, certain steps were taken to ensure that Polish legislation more or less met international standards in this area. Now, if steps have been taken, these are back to dark ages.
– Tell us about family life. Who was waiting for you at release?
– I am not a pop star so that my personal life becomes the object of media attention. I just want to emphasize that the real victims of this whole story were my spouse, a Russian citizen Marina Klebanovich , and my son Fedor, who was born in Moscow in January 2017. In 2016, when I was detained, my spouse was forced to leave Poland for Russia, and I had not yet seen Fedya …
– When you were actively engaged in social and political activities, there were a lot of like-minded people from Germany, France and other EU states circling around you. But when they came to jail, many “friends from the EU” evaporated. Why?
– I do not want to evaluate anyone, these are all very individual things. People have families, children, work, and my destiny reminded them that one cannot fully believe in freedom of speech and democracy. Most of those who shared my views, I continue to consider ideological people. And I understand them perfectly well – they believed that arrests for political views had already gone into the irrevocable past, that the last time this was, perhaps, only in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, I am very glad that I was accused of espionage, in a case that is falling apart. And they could simply plant drugs or weapons, as they did with others in Poland.
– With whom, for example?
– Say, with the editor-in-chief of the well-known Polish weekly Facts and Thoughts Roman Kotlinsky . The man has been sitting in jail for 3.5 years due to undesirable political views on a false accusation of a criminal offense.
– Let’s talk about your “espionage activities.” Obviously, those accused of treason against bail are not released. Here is one of two things – either you are not a spy or the Polish system is so corrupt that you can be released for money, being accused of even the most serious crime.
– As for corruption, I will say this. Today in Poland there is a tough struggle between the executive and the judicial community. I will not talk about the causes of this conflict, something else is important – a few years ago, the Polish Ministry of Justice created a special group whose only task is to search for crimes of a corruption sort committed by judges. And all the while not a single fact has been recorded. In such conditions, it would be naive to suppose that they let me out on bail, because there was some kind of bribe to the judge. Therefore, there remains the only reason why they let me out – I am not guilty of espionage. And – not least – did not commit other crimes, since the expression of political views is not a crime in a democratic country, to which Poland, I hope, counts itself. After all, even the prosecutor’s office, if you read her indictment, admits that in the case filed on me, we are talking about the dissemination by me of certain political convictions and views. The prosecutor’s office, however, calls it the “information war.” But all the experts involved in the defense, and this lawyers, professors of the University of Warsaw, in one voice say that in law there is no concept of “information war”. Moreover, for participation in it is impossible to face justice. This is all journalism.
– It turns out that this is the first time in the European Union that a person is tried for participation in the “information war”?
– Absolutely. In general, I think that I was a guinea pig in the Polish special services. They took me – not the most recognizable politician of Poland, in order to check, as far as possible, violating all possible standards, to close a person for political views, then to extend this accumulated experience to other objectionable but more significant political figures. They did not succeed.
– Let’s talk about your political views. They have not changed in these three years? Do you still, as the leader of the Zmiana party, stand for the withdrawal of Poland from NATO, for blocking de-communization?
– During these three years, I became even more convinced that the ideology of the Zmiana party turned out to be prophetic. Take the military factor of the United States. For three years, Poland turned out to be the only state in Europe that asks, simply pleads on its knees, to have bases of foreign troops on its own territory – a US base. During these three years I read a lot about the history of Poland – there was a time ( grins ), and I didn’t find such a period in the life of the country to spit on national sovereignty. But I began to doubt one thing.
– The fact that a political party, as a form of communication with citizens, corresponds to the tasks of the current moment. I came to the idea that we need to develop more public institutions, NGOs.
– Maybe Polish politicians have already approached you, proposing to become an ally? On the nose of elections to the European Parliament, and in the fall – elections to the Sejm …
– Contacts exist. I will name those who supported and supported me: Euroskeptic Janusz Korvin-Mikke , famous Polish director Grzegorz Brown , leader of the Social Justice Movement Peter Ikonovich .
– But don’t you think that you have become a bargaining chip of the ruling party “Law and Justice”? Before the autumn elections to the Sejm, the Russophobes- “Pisovtsy” removed you as an annoying factor, which opponents of PiS could take advantage of …
– I have no sources that could confirm or deny such a theory. Theoretically everything can be, but I want to draw attention to something else. Today (the conversation was conducted on May 18, on the birthday of Mateusz Piskorsky. ) I opened the Internet for the first time in three years and the first thing I read was that the Russian and Polish foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Jacek Chaputovich , a prominent member, “ met PiS “…
– Yes, imagine, over the past five years – this is the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia and Poland. Even such a joke was born: Chaputovich was looking for a meeting with Lavrov, but he was told at the Russian Foreign Ministry – please, the meeting will take place the next day, as Piskorski will be released from prison.
– ( laughs ) Chaputovich – a serious professor, author of several scientific papers on international issues, I read them. I think personally he understands everything perfectly, but is built into the system. I hope that this meeting is only the beginning of negotiations between Russia and Poland, and as a born optimist I do not exclude a meeting at a higher level. As for my modest self, Russia observes, in contrast to many other countries, the internal sovereignty of states. Since I am exclusively a citizen of Poland, then with all the desire, even if we imagine that Lavrov is concerned with the subject of my sad fate, Russia will not violate the international “commandment” – not to interfere. And I accept and respect it. But anyway, it is good that such a coincidence happened. It somehow inspires and gives hope.
– It is clear that now you, despite your freedom, are in limbo, awaiting a court decision. But when, as they say, everything will end, what are you planning to do? Will you choose the path of a freedom fighter in Poland, or will you go to “everyday existence”?
– Now it is very, very early to talk about it. First, maybe I’m naive, but I believe that if not in Warsaw, then in Strasbourg I will achieve justice and prove that I have not committed any crime. And if the ECtHR comes to this conclusion, then I will consider the issue of returning to political activities. It is clear that all these proceedings will stretch over several years. Secondly, the issue of prospects is closely related to the opinion of my relatives and friends. Without consulting them, I will not make quick decisions. And thirdly, and in fact, maybe, firstly, this question should be asked to the citizens of Poland – how much do they need Piskorski, a compatriot who has been in jail for three years as a political prisoner of modern Poland? If people say they do not want to see me, I will draw conclusions.
– Do you consider the option of coming to the Russian embassy in Warsaw tomorrow and asking for political asylum?
– This is certainly not considering. I am a Polish patriot and my place in Poland where I was born. The fact is that the prosecutor’s office claimed that I have Russian citizenship, which is a lie. And I had to turn to Sergey Vadimovich Andreyev, Russia’s ambassador to Warsaw, who provided documents from the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, that I am not a citizen of Russia and have never made such requests. So, if I come to the Russian embassy now, then the whole Russophobic environment in Poland will only cheer for joy. I do not want to give her such pleasure. I support the fact that in Poland – on television, in the press – openly discuss the prospects for cooperation with Russia. I am ready to argue, to defend my opinion on the strategic importance of cooperation with Russia, without fear that for this I and my associates will be behind bars tomorrow. We need to build just such a Poland, so it makes no sense to leave our home.
Interviewed by Andrei Vypolzov, Kaliningrad – Warsaw
from EAD – translated by and for FRN