Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk speaks during a press conference. His press aide on June 7 threatened a journalist with loss of accreditation for asking an awkward question EPA-EFE/Piotr Nowak


‘You will burn in hell:’ Polish PM Tusk’s press aide threatens journalist


A press aide to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacted angrily when a journalist asked whether it was true that the government had attempted to delay the announcement of the recent death of a soldier.

At a press conference on June 7, Tusk was talking about his decision to dismiss the deputy prosecutor allegedly responsible for the arrest of three border soldiers in March for firing shots during an attempted crossing by illegal migrants.

As Tusk turned to leave, Adrian Borecki from independent TV channel TV Republika, asked if the PM would respond to allegations that the government had tried to hush up the fact that a soldier stabbed in late May by an illegal migrant on the Belarusian border had died of his wounds. 

The reporter suggested the government may have been trying to stop the news from getting out before the European Parliament elections on June 9.

Tusk’s press aide Agnieszka Rucińska furiously snapped back at the journalist saying: “You will burn in hell for this. You will not be accredited if you persist in asking questions in such a way. 

“Accreditation will not be issued if you don’t respect the rules.”

Others have also raised the issue of the soldier’s death.

News portal Onet.pl’s Andrzej Stankiewicz revealed in a podcast that he had received unofficial news that the soldier had died on June 5. Yet, he said, a reporter from the portal who had attended a press conference by the defence minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz on June 6 heard the minister state that the soldier was still in critical condition in hospital.

“It was only after I intervened with one of the minister’s aides that the government admitted … that the soldier had just died in the afternoon” on June 6, a day after it is alleged it was known that he was clinically dead, claimed Stankiewicz.

On June 10, the Polish Government announced an exclusion zone would be introduced on the Belarus border on June 13. Unauthorised people will not be allowed to be within 200 metres of the border in some places and up to 2km in others.

The government said the proposed area of ​​the prohibited zone would not, as a rule, include towns and tourist routes and that the measures will last initially for 90 days.

Human rights and pro-migration NGOs have complained that the move will allow the government too much of a free hand to act on that border unmonitored. They said the measures are little different to what was introduced at one stage by the previous Conservative (PiS) government.

The news came alongside another announcement on June 10 regarding new procedures on the use of firearms by Polish forces on the border following the arrest of the three soldiers for alleged unauthorised use of their weapons. 

The arrests caused outrage in the military and the government has stepped in to make it clear what the rules of engagement are to be.