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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » October 8, 2008
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Communist Agents to Lose High Pensions
October 8, 2008 By W.¯.    
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Former members of the communist-era security services (SB) will be stripped of their generous old-age pension rights under a controversial bill submitted to parliament by the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party Sept. 24. The plans immediately came under attack from left-wing deputies, who labeled them "political revenge."

Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of the PO parliamentary caucus, told deputies that the bill would mete out "historical justice" to those who had persecuted the democratic opposition in communist times.

The economically liberal, center-right Civic Platform wants former SB officers to be given notice that they have been stripped of their generous pension rights by June next year, when Poland marks the 20th anniversary of its first free elections, a ballot that marked the start of the collapse of communism. Many such former officials receive old-age pensions worth zl.7,000 or 8,000 a month. The lowest state pension in Poland is zl.654.

The PO bill also aims to strip former members of the Military Council of National Salvation (WRON) of the right to generous pensions entitlements. The council was set up on Dec. 13 to govern Poland after the imposition of martial law. PO politicians who introduced the draft law to parliament called WRON "a military anti-independence body" that had worked against the interests of the Polish people.

"We think it is unacceptable that people whose names are well known, like [former interior minister Czesław] Kiszczak and [WRON chief and the architect of martial law, General Wojciech] Jaruzelski have not borne any responsibility and live in decent conditions, while the people whom they persecuted feel wronged," said PO deputy Sebastian Karpiniuk. "We hope no faction in the lower house will oppose the draft and that the president will quickly sign it into law."

However, lawyers have questioned whether the principle of collective responsibility can be applied to pension rights. Meanwhile, leftwing politicians angrily attacked the new bill. Grzegorz Napieralski, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, said the draft law was "political revenge" and a "cheap trick" to appeal to voters. He claimed the bill had no legal basis.
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