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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 25, 2008
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Row Over Claims Wałęsa Was Informer
June 25, 2008   
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Claims in a new book that ex-president and former Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa-an icon of the struggle against Poland's communist-era regime-was an agent for the communist security services have sparked a political storm.

The book, called The Security Services and Lech Wałęsa. Contribution to a Biography was published June 23. Its authors, Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, two historians from Poland's National Remembrance Institute (IPN), have produced what Wałęsa's opponents say is strong circumstantial evidence suggesting he secretly collaborated with the SB, the communist secret police, in the early 1970s.

The authors claim they found six reports by a collaborator codenamed Bolek among documents that belonged to the former security services. They say the informer was Wałęsa, who at the time was an ordinary worker at the Gdańsk shipyard in northern Poland. According to Cenckiewicz and Gontarczyk, in 1970-72 Bolek was "a very effective, active SB agent."

In 1976 Bolek was allegedly removed from the operating files of active agents. Two years later the secret police again tried to get Wałęsa to collaborate, but he refused, according to the book's authors.

They claim that Wałęsa concealed this episode of his life, even to the point of trying to destroy compromising files during his time as Polish president from 1990 to 1995.

The publication of the new book under the auspices of the state-run National Remembrance Institute-which was set up to research Nazi and communist-era crimes-has caused a storm, dividing politicians and public opinion like no other event in recent years.

IPN head Janusz Kurtyka said that the material collected by his staff for the book is convincing. The theory that the former president was agent Bolek has been backed by several of his former colleagues from the Free Trade Unions, an organization of the democratic opposition in the coastal region in the 1970s-Krzysztof Wyszkowski, Andrzej Gwiazda, Anna Walentynowicz and current senator Zbigniew Romaszewski. Wyszkowski even claims a recording exists on which Wałęsa admits to having been an agent. President Lech Kaczyński, a former adviser to Wałęsa with whom he later fell out, and his brother Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, have both said in public that they believe Wałęsa was an agent.

On the other side of the barricade is Prime Minister Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform party, who has declared he will defend Wałęsa's reputation, former prime ministers Jerzy Buzek and Tadeusz Mazowiecki as well as former Gdańsk Solidarity leaders from the 1970s and 1980s such as Bogdan Lis and Andrzej Celiński, now deputies for the Democratic Party. They all believe that documents incriminating Wałęsa were forged by the communist security services, one of the aims being to compromise him before the Nobel Prize committee in 1983, the year Wałęsa won the Nobel peace prize. The National Remembrance Institute has been conducting an investigation into the matter for over three years.
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