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Poland's PM stands by ministers in leaked tapes

Jun. 23, 2014 - 08:38AM   |  
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WARSAW, POLAND — Poland’s prime minister defied expectations Monday that he would dismiss officials whose compromising conversations were caught on tape in a government scandal the foreign minister says was orchestrated by organized crime.

Donald Tusk said he will not be dictated by the people who were behind these “criminal” actions and will not punish his ministers for using bad language.

He spoke a day after the magazine Wprost released a transcript of a leaked conversation in which Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski says Poland’s alliance with the U.S. is worthless and harmful for the eastern European country. Last week Wprost also released a transcript of a compromising conversation between the interior minister and the head of Poland’s national bank.

Sikorski asserted Monday that organized crime is behind the secret recordings.

“The government was attacked by an organized crime group,” Sikorski said in Luxembourg as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers. “We don’t yet know who stands behind it; we are not certain yet. But it is being checked and I hope the justice system determines the identities of the group members and, above all, of the masterminds.”

He offered no proof for his statement.

Critics have demanded that Tusk’s center-right government resign since the conversations of top leaders started being leaked more than a week ago. Eavesdropping is a crime under Polish law. The magazine says the recordings came from a “businessman” who did not do the taping and they were made in the private VIP rooms of Warsaw restaurants.

In the transcript released by Wprost, Sikorski used vulgar terms while telling former finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, the Polish-U.S. alliance is not helping Poland.

“The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It is even harmful because it gives Poland a false sense of security,” Sikorski said. “(We are) suckers, total suckers.”

Sikorski also said the alliance with the U.S. could alienate two key neighbors of Poland: Russia and Germany.

Earlier, Wprost released a conversation between Central Bank head Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz where they discussed how the bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015, a seeming violation of the bank’s independence.

———

Associated Press writer Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

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