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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 8, 2009
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Dark Clouds Over IPN
April 8, 2009   
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The Civic Platform (PO), the senior coalition partner, is working on an amendment to the law establishing the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) to allow the replacement of the IPN's board and chairman. "It is a question of weeks," said Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of the PO parliamentary group. "IPN is a problem in Poland. This institution has definitely made many mistakes recently and the responsibility for mistakes is borne by the boss-so Janusz Kurtyka should go." Under the existing law on the IPN, its chairman can only be dismissed by the IPN board while the board cannot be removed and operates until its term expires.

The latest crisis over IPN was triggered by the book Lech Wałęsa-Idea and History published recently by Paweł Zyzak, a 24-year-old archive worker at IPN. In his book, based on oral evidence from anonymous witnesses, Zyzak included a number of claims considered by many to be defamatory about the life of the Solidarity leader and former president of Poland. Zyzak accused Wałęsa of dubious moral conduct and having a love child. Even the book's reviewers who work for IPN say none of these claims has been proven.

Wałęsa, outraged by the book, has called Zyzak a "damn squirt." But a group of right-wing critics of Wałęsa defend Zyzak, arguing that the young historian found previously unknown sources which strip Wałęsa of some of his glory, especially as regards his early years. A similar book, in which two historians argued that Wałęsa had been a communist secret service agent codenamed "Bolek" in the 1970s, was previously published by the IPN. The issue of Wałęsa and alleged collaboration has yet to be clarified.

"PO is banging its fist on the table to defend Lech Wałęsa's dignity and honor," Chlebowski said in connection with the plans to amend the law. Kurtyka insisted the IPN was "independent from politicians and its mission is to pursue the truth."
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