Poland to implement law screening for communist spies

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A new law enters force in Poland on Thursday that requires up to 700,000 people in public positions in this country of 38 million — including journalists and teachers — to be screened for Soviet-era collaboration.

The law is part of a push by Poland's president and prime minister, identical twins and former Solidarity activists Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, to purge from public life those who collaborated with the communist intelligence agencies — a reckoning largely avoided in the bloodless transition to democracy that began in 1989.

Yet those exposed so far in a gradual prying open of the archives in the past years have mainly been former anti-communist activists and Roman Catholic church officials — ironically the very groups from whom the Roman Catholic Kaczynskis draw much of their support. Mindful of this problem, the government is also preparing a separate law that would remove former police authorities from public positions and strip them of the comfortable pensions many live on today.

In Krawczyk's view, the law amounts to an "intellectual fiasco" that he believes will vilify one-time victims who bowed to extreme pressure then, but never did any harm.

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