Former head of Poland's public TV appointed to World Bank post

"In December this year, Mr Jacek Kurski began work as alternate executive director of the Swiss-Polish Constituency of the World Bank Group in Washington," the NBP said in its statement. Piotr Nowak/PAP

The former head of TVP, Poland’s state-owned television network, has been appointed as an executive director at the World Bank, the National Bank of Poland (NBP), the country’s central bank, said in a statement.

Jacek Kurski had gotten the sack from his TVP post in September, and just what he would do next had been the subject of intense speculation in the Polish press.

"In December this year, Mr Jacek Kurski began work as alternate executive director of the Swiss-Polish Constituency of the World Bank Group in Washington," the NBP said in its statement.

The Swiss-Polish Constituency consists of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in addition to Poland and Switzerland. Alternate executive directors act for executive directors in their absence.

"Mr Jacek Kurski's candidacy for the position of alternate executive director was proposed by the President of the NBP as the Governor of the Republic of Poland in the World Bank," the NBP said.

This information was confirmed by Kurski who wrote on Twitter that he had taken a job consistent with his education and managerial experience.

He said he was aware that this meant giving up some public activity or political ambitions. "I always thought that there is no life outside of politics. Well, there is. I know that I will serve Poland well here too," he wrote.

In its statement, the NBP also said that Kurski was an economist and graduate in international trade at the University of Gdansk.

"He has wide-ranging experience in the public sector at all levels: local government, legislative, governmental and international. He was involved, both as a manager and a member of supervisory authorities, in areas such as: regional development, finance, infrastructure and environmental protection," the NBP said.

Kurski's appointment drew strong criticism from the political opposition in Poland suspicious that the former TVP head may have gotten the job because of friends in the government.

“Kurski in the World Bank. They won't stop at anything, they have no shame. Only money matters to them," Borys Budka, a senior member of Civic Platform, Poland's biggest opposition party wrote on Twitter.

But in a radio interview, Piotr Mueller, the government spokesman, said that the decision to appoint Kurski lay with the central bank.

"The National Bank of Poland is not a state-owned bank-company, but a separate state institution that takes independent action," he said.

The interviewer argued that the president of the NBP, Adam Glapiński, was elected by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS), the party Mueller belonged to.

Mueller conceded that there had been talks about a position in the government for Kurski, but he had not accepted any proposal.

In early September, Poland's National Media Council (RMN) dismissed Kurski from the position of president of state-owned broadcaster TVP and appointed Mateusz Matyszkowicz in his place.

Confirming his dismissal Kurski said then that he was awaiting "new tasks."

Following Kurski's sacking from the TVP chair, Budka described him as "the man responsible for seven years of hate speech and lies."

He said that the National Media Council, TVP Info and Kurski himself were responsible for TVP's allegedly biased output in favour of the government.

Kurski first took up the post in January 2016, but on August 2 of the same year he was dismissed by the RMN, which reversed the decision just hours later. He was appointed again in October 2016 and headed the channel until March 2020, when he was again removed by the RMN, though he continued to serve as an advisor to the management board.

In May 2020, Kurski again joined the TVP management board and became acting president in July of that year. On August 7, 2020, the RMN again chose him as TVP president. He held the post until early September 2022.