Culture minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (R) is a close and trusted ally of Polish PM Donald Tusk and headed up the conroversial operation of taking over public media. EPA/RADEK PIETRUSZKA POLAND OUT


Polish Government ‘blacklists’ cultural bodies and Catholic Church


Polish news portal has obtained what is claimed to be a ministry-of-culture list of organisations to be banned and for which there will no longer be any co-operation or public funding.

All are Catholic-rooted or Conservative-leaning.

The portal obtained and published on January 31 a list from an exchange of correspondence between the ministry and one of its outposts. In that, the ministry appears to ask for information about any contact with or funding for a list of organisations.

The apparently black-listed bodies include the Roman Catholic charity Caritas Polska, the pro-life legal think-tank Ordo Iuris, independent television station TV Republika, Conservative weeklies Do Rzeczy, Sieci, Fronda and Tygodnik Solidarność as well as a large number of Catholic and Conservative civil society groups.

The ministry’s circular, which has been sent to bodies funded by the ministry, recommends that all grants issued previously to these organisations and media should be “investigated for any legal or financial impropriety” and that no new grants or joint activities be given or undertaken.

The apparent move follows the culture minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz’s controversial decisions involving the changing of public media management and putting those organisations into “liquidation”. That was seemingly to bypass the need to produce the required legislation proposing such reforms.

Scores of journalists supportive of the previous government and Conservative causes have been removed from their public-media posts. Most of the material they worked on has been “de-published” from the web pages of both TVP and Polish radio stations.

Former justice minister in the previous Conservative (PiS) government Marcin Warchoł has slammed the culture ministry’s list and actions.

He called it “a scandal and an attack on civil society” as well as an attempt by the incumbent Tusk Government “to remove from the public space institutions which do not agree with his politics and which project alternative messages”.

Conservative commentator Rafał Ziemkiewicz told portal that he was “proud” of seeing its weekly print version blacklisted.

He added he would have been more upset had the weekly been sponsored under minister Sienkiewicz’s stewardship. He did object to the Government “trying to imply that there is something corrupt about civil society organisation”.

Ziemkiewicz also said that the Government was attempting to suggest that there was “something corrupt” about civil-society organisations and media benefiting from publicly funded grants.

Asked why he thought institutions such as Caritas were being blacklisted, Ziemkiewicz said it was a signal that the Catholic Church was now regarded as an “enemy” by the Government. He said it was likely to be attacked whenever it competed for funding with charitable and ideological initiatives that supported the agenda of the “cultural revolution”, such as the promotion of LGBT+ rights.

“Anything that comes from Conservative circles is to be condemned and combated,” concluded Ziemkiewicz.

Sources close to the Government claim it has every right to audit public expenditure and to stop funding organisations holding what it alleges are “extreme” views.

They added that the previous government discriminated against many neutral civil-society groups, choosing instead to give money to those who supported the Conservative “cause”.