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Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk urges voters to avoid war by voting in the European elections. Emphasizing security and the threat of Russian aggression, Tusk’s Civic Coalition stresses the importance of a united EU stance against Moscow, particularly with pro-Russian parties gaining traction in central Europe.

Poles, historically and geographically wary of Russia, are being urged to vote to protect themselves. Northern Poland shares a heavily monitored 230km (142 miles) border with Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland has tightened security and plans to further reinforce the border with a 10-billion-zloty (£1.992bn) “Shield East” project, coordinated with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

While Tusk’s opponents, the Law and Justice party (PiS), focus on issues like the EU’s migration deal and the Green Deal, they also recognize the Russian threat, having invested heavily in defense during their governance. This election sees PiS candidate Karol Karski drawing attention with a campaign video of him symbolically stopping a Russian tank.

In schools, Polish children are learning survival skills, reflecting the national concern over the Russian threat. Captain Dominik Pijarski of the 6th Mazovian Brigade confirms that Poland is preparing for a real threat from Russia, with the entire nation learning lessons from the Ukraine invasion.

However, not all Poles unconditionally support Ukraine. In rural areas, farmers protest against the EU Green Deal and competition from Ukrainian farmers who benefit from tariff-free exports and can use banned chemicals, leading to higher productivity. These farmers support Ukraine militarily but feel the economic impact is unfair.

The European election has not generated much excitement, with traditionally lower turnout compared to national votes. However, Tusk’s final rally in Warsaw will likely focus on security, reiterating the ongoing risk of living next to Russia and the need for European vigilance.

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Special services in Poland uncovered and removed listening devices in a room where cabinet ministers were scheduled to convene. The regular cabinet meeting, typically held in Warsaw, was relocated to Katowice due to the attendance of several ministers, including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, at an economic conference there.

The increased spying activity in Poland is attributed to its role as a hub for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in 2022. The State Protection Service, in collaboration with the Internal Security Agency, detected and dismantled the eavesdropping devices during a routine security sweep of the room. The Internal Security Agency is currently investigating the matter further.

Despite the discovery, the cabinet meeting proceeded as planned in the building. A spokesperson for the Silesia regional authorities suggested that the device may have been part of the room’s old communication system.

In a separate development, a Polish judge sought asylum in Belarus, citing concerns over Poland’s policies towards Belarus and Russia. The judge’s actions have raised suspicions of espionage, particularly as he was due to preside over cases involving security clearance for NATO-related information.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski condemned the judge’s actions, referring to him as a traitor. Prime Minister Tusk has called for a meeting of the Secret Services College to discuss potential Russian and Belarusian influence in Polish politics. He emphasized concerns about the judge’s long-standing relationship with Belarusian authorities and its implications for national security.

This incident comes after the previous year’s arrest of several members of an alleged Russian spy network in Poland, accused of planning sabotage near the Ukrainian border.

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Archaeologists recently made a significant discovery at the Wolf’s Lair, a former Nazi military base located in Gierloz, northeastern Poland. During a dig prompted by the unearthing of a fragment of human skull on February 24, they uncovered five human skeletons missing hands and feet.

The Latebra Foundation, a historical organization based in Gdansk, confirmed that the remains belonged to three adults, a teenager, and a newborn. These bodies were found near a house once occupied by Nazi commander Hermann Göring, a prominent figure in World War II history.

The skeletons were arranged in close proximity to each other, facing the same direction, amidst remnants of burned boards and sewage infrastructure. Despite the absence of clothing, authorities found no evident signs of trauma on the remains.

Initially mistaking the site for an old bathroom, the excavation team was surprised when they discovered ashes and a burnt key. Polish police have since launched an investigation into the discovery, with many questions still unanswered.

Further investigation, including carbon dating to determine the age of the remains, is deemed necessary by experts. The Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s Eastern Front headquarters, holds immense historical significance, having been strategically situated in the forests of northeastern Poland.

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A Polish man has been detained and accused of collaborating with Russian intelligence to potentially target Volodymyr Zelensky, according to authorities. The individual, identified as Pawel K, allegedly aimed to gather intelligence on an airport in Poland frequently used by the Ukrainian president. The arrest was prompted by Ukrainian intelligence information, though it’s unclear if any information was actually transmitted. If convicted, Pawel K could face a sentence of up to eight years. He remains in custody while investigations continue.

Polish prosecutors stated that Pawel K had offered his services to Russian military intelligence and had direct contact with individuals involved in the conflict in Ukraine. His assignment reportedly involved gathering details about security measures at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport in southeastern Poland.

Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, previously a small regional facility, has become crucial for supplying Western military aid to Ukraine since the full-scale invasion. It serves as a significant transit point for military and cargo aircraft from the US and Europe, facilitating the delivery of supplies to Ukraine via trucks.

The airport is frequently used by leaders traveling to and from Ukraine, including President Zelensky, who has utilized it for foreign trips. Notably, other dignitaries like US President Joe Biden have also transited through this airport on their visits to Ukraine.

This incident follows previous arrests related to espionage suspicions, including the apprehension of foreign nationals accused of spying for Russia. They were reportedly involved in installing surveillance cameras, some of which were positioned around Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport.

Additionally, neighboring Germany recently detained two alleged Russian spies suspected of planning to disrupt German military aid intended for Ukraine.

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Poland’s MPs recently engaged in a significant debate over potentially granting women the right to abortion on demand, marking a departure from discussions of the sort in over three decades. Despite expectations of strong emotions given Poland’s devout Catholicism, the attendance was notably sparse, with many MPs from both the opposition and government failing to show up.

Although women constitute only 29% of the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, the majority of speakers in the debate were women. The discussion revolved around potentially liberalizing one of the EU’s strictest abortion laws, which currently permits the procedure only in cases of maternal health risk, rape, or incest.

While public opinion increasingly supports expanded abortion access, politicians have been hesitant to act. The previous Law and Justice-led government, supported by the Catholic Church, had actually tightened abortion restrictions in 2020, sparking widespread protests across the nation.

The ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, which deemed abortion due to severe and irreversible fetal abnormalities unconstitutional, led to outrage and sustained demonstrations. Several women have died in hospitals since then, as doctors refused to perform necessary abortions, even when the mother’s life was at risk.

Outside the parliament, anti-abortion protesters expressed their views in stark terms, likening liberal ministers to Adolf Hitler and employing provocative imagery. Inside, MPs presented contrasting viewpoints, with some arguing for abortion as a woman’s right, while others contended that it’s not universally supported among Polish women.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has committed to introducing abortion on demand, but his coalition government is divided over the extent of liberalization. Various proposals, ranging from abortion up to 12 weeks to decriminalization of abortion assistance, have been put forward by different factions within the coalition.

However, achieving consensus on this contentious issue won’t be easy, with opposition from conservative elements and the potential for a presidential veto by Andrzej Duda, who aligns with Catholic beliefs. Ultimately, the fate of these proposals remains uncertain pending further parliamentary deliberation and potential presidential intervention.

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The French Senate has overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to solidify women’s right to abortion, following a similar endorsement by the National Assembly. The vote, with 267 in favor and 50 against, reflects growing pressure to strengthen abortion rights amidst concerns over erosion in allied nations like the US and Poland.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a special joint session of both houses of parliament, away from Paris, in Versailles, to vote on the amendment. If passed with a three-fifths majority, a referendum won’t be necessary. An Ifop poll from November 2022 indicated strong public support, with 86% favoring the amendment.

While all major political parties in France support abortion rights, there was a revision in the language of the amendment, changing from endorsing the “right” to abortion to advocating for the “freedom” to have one. This adjustment, calling for “guaranteed freedom,” was approved by the Senate.

President Macron has pledged to make women’s freedom to choose abortion “irreversible” by enshrining it in the constitution. Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti hailed the move as historic, positioning France as the first country to constitutionally protect women’s freedom in deciding about their bodies.

Conservative senators expressed feeling pressured to approve the amendment, with one anonymously stating concerns about familial repercussions if she voted against it.

The backdrop to this decision includes ongoing debates in the US, where abortion rights have been challenged, leading to restrictions in many states, and in Poland, where a near-total ban on abortion was imposed by the Constitutional Court in 2020.

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In the Netherlands, a tragic incident occurred in Lochem where two workers lost their lives and two others were injured during the construction of a bridge. The collapse happened when cables supporting a bridge arch snapped, causing it to plummet to the ground. The deceased workers were identified as one from Belgium and the other from Poland, but further details such as their names and ages were not disclosed.

The collapse, labeled as an “industrial accident” by officials, prompted an ongoing investigation to determine its cause. Witnesses, including onlookers, were deeply affected by the sudden collapse and are receiving psychological support.

According to one witness, the collapse occurred shortly after the arch began swinging, followed by a loud bang. The bridge was intended to span a major canal as part of a new ring road project in Lochem, Gelderland.

Mayor Sebastiaan van ‘t Erve expressed shock over the incident, highlighting the extensive planning and development efforts over five years leading up to the construction. Despite this, the bridge collapsed in a single day, resulting in fatalities and injuries.

The exact cause of the collapse remains unclear, and investigations are ongoing. Local authorities confirmed that the injured workers were hospitalized but expected to recover.

Andre Meilink from the regional safety authority provided insight into the incident, explaining that the bridge began to twist as it was being lifted, leading to the collapse of a section.

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France has taken decisive action by announcing the ban of 28 Israeli settlers who stand accused of perpetrating attacks against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank. This move aligns with similar measures enacted by other nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, which have also imposed restrictions on individuals involved in comparable activities. The French government’s decision comes amidst escalating violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, prompting a firm condemnation of such actions.

In a statement issued by the French foreign ministry, the country emphasized the gravity of the situation, denouncing the unacceptable violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. France, along with Poland and Germany, collectively announced sanctions against Israelis implicated in attacks within the West Bank. This concerted effort underscores the international community’s recognition of the need to address the escalating tensions and safeguard the rights of Palestinians in the region.

The French government reiterated its stance on the illegality of colonization under international law, emphasizing the imperative to halt such activities. It emphasized the necessity of ending colonization to pave the way for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, thereby enabling Israelis and Palestinians to coexist peacefully and securely. France also expressed its intention to pursue sanctions at the European level, highlighting the importance of a coordinated approach among European Union member states in addressing the ongoing conflict.

While the individuals affected by these measures have not been publicly named, the broader context underscores the gravity of the situation. The imposition of sanctions by France and other nations reflects a concerted effort to address the escalating violence and promote stability in the region. As the international community continues to grapple with the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such actions serve as a testament to the importance of upholding human rights and seeking avenues for peaceful resolution.

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A journalist working for Poland’s state broadcaster has publicly expressed remorse for the channel’s complicity in disseminating anti-LGBT sentiment. Wojciech Szelag, the host of TVP Info, acknowledged the channel’s role in perpetuating hateful rhetoric against the LGBT community over the course of several years. He recognized that LGBT individuals had been subjected to derogatory language and discrimination, emphasizing that they are not merely an abstract ideology but are people with specific identities, relationships, and experiences.

During the Guest of the Evening show, Szelag offered a heartfelt apology to two LGBT activists, Bart Staszewski and Maja Heban. He emphasized the importance of acknowledging the humanity of LGBT individuals, expressing regret for the hurtful language and narratives propagated by TVP Info. Staszewski, deeply moved by the apology, highlighted the significant impact of the channel’s previous actions on the lives of LGBT people in Poland.

Under the previous government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, TVP Info frequently broadcast content that vilified the LGBT community. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his allies, including President Andrzej Duda, often condemned expressions of LGBT identity and promoted discriminatory rhetoric. However, since the new Prime Minister Donald Tusk assumed office, changes have been made to the broadcaster in an effort to depoliticize state media and promote more inclusive narratives.

The recent apology from TVP Info’s host reflects a broader shift in Poland’s media landscape, as the country grapples with issues of discrimination and intolerance. While the apology signifies a step towards acknowledging past wrongs, there is still much work to be done in fostering greater acceptance and understanding of the LGBT community in Polish society.

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Members of Parliament in Poland have voted to remove the parliamentary immunity of far-right politician Grzegorz Braun after he extinguished candles lit for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in a highly controversial act. The global condemnation of Braun’s actions resulted in a fine in December, but the recent decision to revoke his parliamentary immunity now exposes him to potential criminal charges. Braun, affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Confederation party, used a fire extinguisher to put out the Hanukkah candles and referred to the celebration as “satanic.”

Prosecutors are planning to bring several charges against Braun, including destruction of property, insulting an object of religious worship, and violation of bodily integrity. The unanimous support for revoking his immunity came from all political parties, except the Confederation party, highlighting the widespread agreement that Braun’s behavior was unacceptable. Lawmakers emphasized the need to hold him accountable for his actions.

Grzegorz Braun has a history of provocative stunts, further contributing to his controversial reputation. In addition to the Hanukkah incident, he gained notoriety for dumping a Christmas tree decorated in the colors of the EU and Ukraine into a bin and damaging a microphone during a talk by a Holocaust historian. Prosecutors also intend to charge him for separate incidents that occurred in 2022 and 2023.

The removal of Braun’s parliamentary immunity signifies a significant step in potential legal consequences for his actions, with prosecutors aiming to address various charges related to his behavior. The broader context of his controversial actions and statements adds to the ongoing debate about the boundaries of free speech and the consequences for those who engage in offensive or harmful behavior.

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