Gazeta Polska newspaper punished for commemorating the Smolensk Crash
SCND July 6, 2015
This is probably the most bizarre court ruling in the history of Free Word. Magdalena Kubczak, a judge at the District Court in Warsaw, sentenced the editor of Gazeta Polska (Polish Newspaper) for including the names of the Polish Film Chronicle authors, Jan Strękowski and Paweł Banasiak, on the cover of a film “Córka” (The Daughter). Gazeta Polska Codziennie confirmed today that despite the fact that this information was correct and did not violate any confidentiality restrictions, the Court ruled that Gazeta Polska is to issue an official apology to the two authors for providing their names in the movie “Corka,” to be published in Rzeczpospolita newspaper, and pay a compensation of 30,000 PLN to each of them.
The “Córka” film by Maria Dłużewska is an emotional story about first days after the Smolensk crash. The main character of the documentary is Marta Kaczyńska, who takes the audience around the presidential couple’s apartment and reminiscences about her parents. The main part of the film was made during collecting the president Lech Kaczyński’s and his wife Maria’s personal belongings, shortly after the tragedy and before their funeral. Many images were used in the production, including materials by Jan Strękowski and Paweł Banasiak from the archives of Polish Film Chronicle. The contract between Gazeta Polska and the Polish Film Chronicle stipulates that end credits should include the following statement: “The film production used archive materials of the Polish Film Chronicle. Produced by: Jan Strękowski, Photography: Paweł Banasiak, Sound: Spas Hristov, co-production: Mieszko Zieliński.” As required by the agreement, the statement was included in the film, and on the cover of DVD enclosed with an issue of Gazeta Polska, labeled as “production.”
This, in the opinion of Strękowski and Banasiak, violated their personal rights. Their explanation reveals a lot about the 25 years of freedom in Poland. “I feel uncomfortable to be associated with a particular political view. I am ignored when it comes to certain professional opportunities and that leads to loss of income,” Jan Strękowski told the court. Both men said the fact their names appeared on the cover of the film hindered their chances of getting professional work. They claim that the Polish Film Institute refused to fund one of the men’s project about… Uszatek Bear (a Polish program for young children). The men claim it is because Gazeta Polska has a defined political profile.
”There is no doubt that both of them were authors of some excerpts of the film. It is highly debatable that their rights were violated just because a DVD film was included in an issue of a politically profiled newspaper. This could lead to conclusion that anybody associated with Gazeta Polska in any way, becomes stigmatized, has problems later in life and becomes excluded,” says attorney Sławomir Sawicki, who represents Gazeta Polska. “The compensation is not in proportion with the alleged violation and to announce an apology on the first page of Gazeta Polska and Rzeczpospolita is a harsh punishment,” he adds.
According to Tomasz Sakiewicz, the Chief Editor of Gazeta Polska, the sentence is a punishment for remembering the victims of the Smolensk crash. The judge openly admitted that our attitude towards Smolensk is not shared and harmful, and for that we have been sentenced to pay out compensation high enough to threaten the existence of our weekly newspaper. This court sentence demonstrates that remembering Maria and Lech Kaczyński is forbidden in Poland,” concluded Sakiewicz, adding that no political views or theories on the Smolensk crash causes were expressed in the film. “We just wanted to remember the victims and the court banned us from remembering,” he says.
The fact that both complainants were exempted from covering court fees would also indicate the negative attitude of the court towards Gazeta Polska. The newspaper will be making an appeal to all organizations that monitor the freedom of speech in Poland to take a stance on this matter.
With regards to the sentence, ordering Gazeta Polska to pay out compensation and officially apologize on the first pages of Rzeczpospolita and Gazeta Polska newspapers, lawyers, journalists and politicians expressed astonishment that in the law abiding country, Gazeta Polska has been punished for abiding the law.
Zofia Romaszewska, Legendary leader of Anti-Communist opposition
“This sentence is peculiar to say the least. If the Polish Film Chronicle has a contract with Gazeta Polska to use materials as long as their authors’ names will be credited, then I find it hard to understand what the court based their verdict on.”
Teresa Bochwic, Journalist and General Board member at the Polish Journalists Association (SDP)
“It is very sad that the court shares the opinion of those who want to spread false stereotypes about press and who feel threatened by Gazeta Polska’s publications. This is a common phenomenon that has been around for years. Solidarność weekly used to be the “mean stuff that shouldn’t be touched,” and now Gazeta Polska is being portrayed in the same way. Why? From the start Gazeta Polska was a pain in the neck of [Communist] agents and secret collaborators, who would rather keep their activities forgotten. Since they failed to stop that particular publication (they tried), an attempt to vilify media that reveal inconvenient facts was successfully made.”
Wojciech Borowik, Committee member of Civic Poland Foundation
“This sentence is surprising and completely incomprehensible. It is not in any way inappropriate that the film producer used the Polish Film Chronicle’s materials. It is a good thing that various media can access those materials. In this case it is not Gazeta Polska that should be sentenced, but those who refuse jobs or funding for authors just because they shared their materials. This is a curious matter, and the most outrageous fact is that individuals indirectly related to Gazeta Polska are being stigmatized and hindered in their work. However, why is it the newspaper that has to pay for it?”
Wiktor Świetlik, SDP Center for Monitoring Freedom of Press (CMWP SDP)
“It is one of the most bizarre sentences I have ever heard during my work for CMWP SDP. Claims about the Polish Film Institute, a government institution, having refused funding on the basis that it doesn’t like a certain political view is an accusation against that institution, rather than Gazeta Polska. This sentence for me is a supposition that some media are in some way stigmatised and appearing in any relation to them is forbidden and harmful. Soon we are going to experience dentists claiming compensation just because Tomasz Sakiewicz went to them for treatment.”
Marcin Wolski, Writer and journalist, Chief of SDP Warsaw
“The whole situation is nonsense. If anybody should be sued in this case, it should be those who persecute the Polish Film Chronicle’s authors. The truth is that they really have suffered a loss of income or even a moral loss after their names were published on the DVD cover. However, they have not been persecuted by Gazeta Polska, but by those who spread the hateful attitudes. Agnieszka Odorowicz, the director of the Polish Film Institute should be the defendant here, rather than Tomasz Sakiewicz. It is an equivalent of suing a post, on which an announcement was placed, rather than its author.”
Jarosław Sellin, Former MP for Law and Justice Party, the Deputy Minister of Culture
“Both authors should be directing their claims towards the Polish Film Chronicle, the owner of materials used in the film. The sentence is bizarre and suggests that there is a certain subject in the Polish public life that is taboo and touching it means professional exclusion. The sentence indicates that remembering Lech Kaczyński is an act of defamation, which is a total misunderstanding and a revelation about the Polish justice system. It also shows the human rights levels in Poland, where making a film, even if it is free of political contexts, could be an end to a career.”
The District Court in Warsaw has recently passed a verdict that astonished even the most experienced attendees of courtrooms. Judge Magdalena Kubczak sentenced the editor of Gazeta Polska for including names of the Polish Film Chronicle director and cameraman, Jan Strękowski and Paweł Banasiak, on the cover of a film “Córka” (The Daughter). Whilst working for the Polish Film Chronicle, both of them accompanied Marta Kaczyńska, the daughter of Maria and Lech Kaczyński, during her collecting their personal belongings shortly after the Smolensk tragedy.
As in the earlier publication on niezalezna.pl website and in Gazeta Polska Codziennie, the rights to the materials were bought by the editor of Gazeta Polska. The contracts stipulated that the following statement must be published in the end credits of the film: “The film production used archive materials of the Polish Film Chronicle. Production: Jan Strękowski, photography: Paweł Banasiak, sound: Spas Hristov, co-production: Mieszko Zieliński.” This statement was also used in a film, as well as on the cover of DVD enclosed in the issue of Gazeta Polska, labeled as “production.” This, in the opinion of Strzękowski and Banasiak, violated their personal rights. The court ruled that the “victims” must be paid out a compensation of 30,000 PLN each and officially apologized to in Rzeczpospolita and Gazeta Polska newspapers.
The trip to Smolensk was expected to highlight Russia finally admitting culpability in the massacre, after long having blamed it on the Germans, an atrocity they had tried to conceal for over 70 years.
As for the reception committee, it had different ideas. Putin wasn’t looking forward to such an occasion. Into this poisonous reception brew was President Kaczynski’s well-known public criticism of Moscow and Putin, a habit that has ended the lives of others within Russia – and abroad. A few discouraging Russian requirements – that Kaczynski could not attend in any official capacity – did not halt the Poles. Kaczynski would go anyway on non-official, “personal” business. To Russians, such a distinction would be meaningless, not lessening the possible international excoriation of such an event. A problem ripe for a modern, Russian solution: a tragic, ‘natural’ accident.
Remigiusz Mus, the flight engineer on Yak-40 whose landing immediately preceded PLF 101 and whose testimony implicated the Russian flight controllers, died of suicide.
This rounds out the death of the entirety of key witnesses whose testimonies could prove that the flight controllers bore at least partial responsibility for the mysterious crash that killed the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others near Smolensk, Russia, on April 10, 2010.
Suicide. So says the Polish Prosecutors office under the administration of Donald Tusk, Bronislaw Komorowski, and the Civic Platform party (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) - the people who came out on top following the disaster of Flight PLF 101. The position of the Prosecutors office is that the autopsy indicated death by hanging with no defensive wounds and and alcohol level of one permille (.01%).
General Konstantin Anatolyevich Morev, chief of the Federal Security Services (FSB), successor to KGB, office in Tver, who interviewed the Russian flight controllers, died at the end of August 2011. His body was found in his office. The official cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound from his service revolver.
Not a single member of the Special 36th Aviation Transportation Regiment who testified before the Poland’s Military Prosecutor’s office said anything disparaging about the crew of the TU-154 or General Andrzej Błasik. To the contrary, the sworn testimonies of the deposed airmen praised the late Air Force commander and the crew for their professionalism.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views the SmolenskCrashNews.com. All information is provided on an as-is basis, and all data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The Smolensk Crash News DOT COM makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.