Deadline announced for submission of candidates to Russian influence panel

The deadline for parties to nominate their candidate to the Russian influence commission, as set by the speaker of the the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, is 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29.

The law establishing the commission, which will cover the years 2007 to 2022, came into force on May 31, but just after signing it into law, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, tabled an amendment.

The commission, which under the original law would have had the power to bar politicians from public office if they had been found to have been operating under Russian influence, was subjected to severe criticism with even the US and the EU expressing disapproval.

Critics feared, in particular, the commission could be used as political tool to prevent opposition leader Donald Tusk, who is also a former prime minister, from running in the parliamentary elections which will be held on October 15.

On Friday afternoon, parliamentary clubs were given notice of the deadline date as set by Speaker of the Sejm Elzbieta Witek. 

Marek Ast, a member of the Law and Justice (PiS) presidium, pointed out that the procedure for nominating candidates was launched after an amendment to the law and the adoption of the proposal of President Andrzej Duda.

Ast said that PiS would present a list of its candidates to the committee. "It is quite possible that, if the names of the candidates are known, the members of the commission may be chosen during the sitting of the Sejm on August 30," he added.

In turn, Poland's opposition parties announced that they had no intention to present candidates to the commission.

Borys Budka, a senior member of Civic Coalition (KO), the main Polish opposition grouping, when asked by PAP whether his party would submit candidates to the committee, said that "the Civic Coalition will not submit candidates to this 'pseudo-commission.'"

Also, the Left and Polish People's Party (PSL) announced that they would not submit any candidates.

Krzysztof Gawkowski, the head of the Left party, wrote on X that "as there is an increasing electoral panic in PiS, they are returning to the matter of establishing a commission to investigate Russian influence!"

He added that "the Left firmly declares that it will not submit any candidates and will boycott the work of this illegal body!"

Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, leader of the agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), wrote on X: "We will not legitimise the dysfunctional Russian commission created by PiS and we will not put forward any candidates."

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