Walesa bows out amid storm over spy claims

ADRIAN BRIDGE

Central Europe Correspondent

After five tempestuous years at the helm, President Lech Walesa of Poland bowed out of office last night, leaving a storm of controversy and political intrigue in his wake.

Mr Walesa's successor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Communist, is to be sworn in this afternoon. The outgoing president will be boycotting the ceremony for what he terms "political and moral reasons".

But the handover of power will be overshadowed by Mr Walesa's allegations this week that the Prime Minister, Jozef Oleksy, another former Communist, spent years working for the KGB.

Military prosecutors investigating the allegations yesterday said the evidence was insufficient to justify an inquiry, but requested more information. The statement eased the pressure on Mr Oleksy to step down, but a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said he planned to take a holiday after Christmas until the situation had been clarified.

Whether he is prosecuted or not, Mr Oleksy's position as Prime Minster has been weakened by the allegations that for more than 10 years he provided classified information to Moscow. In a parliamentary debate on Thursday, he denied having been an agent. The former Central Committee member and regional party boss did admit he had enjoyed close ties with Soviet diplomats, one of whom he later learned was a KGB officer.

The storm over Mr Oleksy broke on Tuesday night when, with only three days of his tenure remaining, Mr Walesa summoned senior political and legal figures to the presidential palace to be presented with evidence of a "threat to the security of the state".

Conspicuously absent from the meeting were Mr Oleksy and Mr Kwasniewski, bothmembers of the former Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Mr Walesa's political arch-foe.

The SLD, which today will take charge of the presidency in addition to the government, denounced the proceedings as a "dirty provocation", suggesting Mr Walesa was unable to accept his defeat by Mr Kwas- niewski in last month's presidential election. Mr Oleksy said Walesa supporters tried to blackmail him this month by getting him to step down in return for keeping quiet.

Although Poles have got used to controversy under Mr Walesa, many were shocked by this week's events. While most found it hard to believe Mr Oleksy knowingly worked for Moscow, they were also convinced not even Mr Walesa would go to such lengths to discredit his political opponents.

For some, the only explanation was that the whole thing had been a plot by Moscow to harm Poland's credibility in the eyes of the West, damaging its chances of joining Nato and the European Union.

Suggested Topics
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried