Walesa gets presidential pension

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The Independent Online

Central Europe Correspondent

The former Polish President Lech Walesa's dramatic return to his old job as an electrician has ended before it really got started with news yesterday that he is to receive a pension of $2,600 (pounds 1,700) a month.

After fierce debate, MPs decided overwhelmingly that Mr Walesa's services to the state deserved to be recognised - as did those of two other previous presidents: Wojciech Jaruzelski, the country's last communist leader, and Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last leader of the Polish government-in-exile set up in London during the war.

Mr Walesa, who was narrowly defeated in November's presidential election by the former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, had complained that no provision had been made for him after he handed over office at the end of last year.

To underline the point, he announced his intention to take up his old job as an electrician at the Gdansk shipyard where he founded the Solidarity trade union and where his former bosses said they would be delighted to have him back.

In a highly-publicised return to the yard earlier this month, Mr Walesa said he needed the $260 a month electrician's pay in order to make ends meet.

Part of the reason for the delay in awarding the pension was due to misgivings many MPs felt making a similar provision for Mr Jaruzelski, who declared martial law in the country in 1980. But Mr Jaruzelski said yesterday that he would not collect his presidential pension as he was already getting one as a retired army general.