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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » October 29, 2008
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President Condemned for 'Threat' to Reporter
October 29, 2008 By W.¯.    
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President Lech Kaczyński has come under fire from an international press freedom watchdog after he allegedly threatened to "destroy" a prominent Polish journalist who questioned him on his tense relationship with the government.

Private broadcaster TVN24 has sent an official letter to the National Radio and Television Council requesting that it takes a stand over the "threats" against reporter Monika Olejnik, the popular anchor of the Kropka nad i (Dotting the i) current affairs program.

In the letter, the station details a discussion between Kaczyński and the anchor, as reported by Olejnik and several witnesses. The president is alleged to have said "you are on my shortlist" and "I'll destroy you." Kaczyński also addressed Olejnik as "Daisy," which the media have interpreted as an insinuation that she collaborated with the security services under a code name.

The incident took place on the evening of Oct. 15 following a special broadcast of an interview with Kaczyński during an EU summit in Brussels. The president had attended against the wishes of the Polish government. His outburst is thought to have been provoked by the reporter pressing him on touchy issues regarding his relationship with the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Kaczyński telephoned the reporter two days later and apologized. He also sent 11 red roses. Olejnik accepted the apology. Kaczyński said later that he considers the matter closed. "I have been nicer to ladies over the course of my life, which is why I apologized," he said.

Reporters Without Borders, an international group that fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom, said on its website, "We firmly condemn this harassment of Monika Olejnik. Lech Kaczyński's remarks are not worthy of a president, especially the president of a European Union member country.

"Europe is supposed to set an example in respect for press freedom, starting with responsible behavior by its leaders," it added.
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