National mourning starts in Poland after ex-PM's death

A two-day period of national mourning started on Friday in honour of former Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, who died at the age of 88 a week before.

Memorial services for the former prime minister will be held in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, Olszewski will lie in state in the main hall of the Prime Minister's Office where the public will be able to pay their respects to the former PM from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, following an 11 a.m. memorial service at Warsaw Cathedral, the former PM will be laid to rest at Warsaw's Powązki Military Cemetery.

Jan Olszewski headed the Polish government in 1991-1992. In the communist era, notably in the 1960s and 1970s, he was a defence attorney in political trials of oppositionists. In the 1980s, when the nationwide Solidarity movement emerged in defiance of the communist authorities, Olszewski became an advisor to what was the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc and its leader Lech Wałęsa.

When communism collapsed in 1989, Olszewski became a political leader and later an advisor to late President Lech Kaczyński. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's top distinction, in 2009.