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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » June 3, 2009
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"Rywingate" Reloaded?
June 3, 2009   
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Well-known film producer Lew Rywin, the central figure in one of the biggest political scandals of the past two decades, was arrested May 27 and is under detention for three months by court order. Two days earlier, the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) had detained Rywin at his home in Konstancin-Jeziorna near Warsaw in connection with an investigation of falsified medical documentation. Rywin was being held together with his son Marcin. Ten other people involved in the case, including a well-known lawyer in Warsaw, were subsequently taken into custody. The public prosecutor's office moved for their arrest and the court agreed in eight of the cases.

According to the prosecutor's office, in 2005 Rywin enticed another person to offer a bribe of zl.210,000 to medical doctors and to promise them another zl.190,000. The plan was to arrange postponement of a sentence Rywin was to serve. If Rywin is proven guilty of the charges, he will face up to 10 years in prison. The list of suspects tied to the falsification case consists of around 100 people, according to the prosecutor's office. As a result of the falsified documentation, several important trials were suspended.

Rywin was at the center of a scandal, dubbed "Rywingate," which shook the Polish political scene in 2002. On July 22 of that year, Rywin sought a bribe of $17.5 million from Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, in return for changes to a new media bill that would benefit the Agora corporation, Gazeta's publisher. At the time, the media bill was being drafted by the ruling left wing. Unbeknownst to Rywin, the incriminating conversation was caught on tape and five months later, Gazeta Wyborcza published a story about the meeting. A scandal broke out and a special parliamentary commission was appointed that spent months investigating the case and calling dozens of witnesses. The findings were inconclusive and it was never established on whose behalf Rywin had been acting. Many politicians and observers suggest the strings had been pulled by senior activists in the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). In December 2004, Rywin was sentenced to two years in prison, of which he served about one year before being released on parole.
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