US concerned over Polish 'Russian influence' commission

The US Department of State has voiced concern over Poland's plans to launch a commission to investigate "Russian influences" in Poland's previous and current governments.

According to Poland's opposition, the commission, which is to have the power to ban politicians from public office on the strength of their past contacts with Russia, could be used to bar opposition leaders, especially Donald Tusk, the leader of main opposition grouping Civic Coalition (KO), from this autumn's general election.

Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said the US was concerned the commission could be used to impede the freedom and honesty of the autumn elections, and appealed to the Polish government not to use it to eliminate political rivals.

"The U.S. Government is concerned by the Polish government’s passage of new legislation that could be misused to interfere with Poland's free and fair elections," Miller said in a statement published on Monday. "We share the concerns expressed by many observers that this law to create a commission to investigate Russian influence could be used to block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process.

"We call on the government of Poland to ensure this law does not preempt voters' ability to vote for candidate of their choice and that it not be invoked or abused in ways that could affect the perceived legitimacy of elections."

Earlier, a similar opinion about the commission was forwarded by Mark Brzezinski, the US ambassador to Poland.