EU launches legal action against Poland over new Russian influence law

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Brussels — The European Union on Thursday launched legal action against member country Poland over a controversial new law that the nationalist government says is meant to counter Russian influence but which -judgment saying that it could be used to persecute opposition politicians.

The European Commission said that they believe that the new law “seriously hinders the democratic process,” and that it “violates the principle of democracy,” and “rights to effective legal protection.” The EU’s executive branch oversees respect for the bloc’s laws.

The law was approved in May, ahead of general elections in the autumn, and allows the creation of a committee to investigate Russian influence in Poland. Critics argue that it would have unconstitutional powers, including the ability to ban officials from public life for ten years.

It seems to have boosted public support for the opposition. Over the weekend, around 500,000 people took part in a massive anti-government protest, according to organizers. Citizens traveled from across the country to express their anger at officials who they say have eroded democratic norms and created fears that the country is following Hungary and Turkey down the drain. -way to autonomy.

The protest was led by the main opposition leader, Donald Tusk, a former EU chief executive. It was probably the biggest demonstration in decades in Poland, although state television said there were no more than 150,000 people. The broadcaster, TVP, was accused of grossly underestimating the turnout.

The march was held on the anniversary of a pivotal moment in Poland’s history, the partially free elections on June 4, 1989, which paved the way for the end of communist rule. It happened about five months before the elections, in which the ruling party Law and Justice is fighting for a third term.

As a first step in its legislation, the EU Commission has sent a “formal notification letter” to the government in Warsaw outlining its objections. Poland has 21 days to respond to the letter, and after more exchanges, the government could impose heavy fines if it doesn’t comply.

Brussels is concerned that the law contains a broad and unspecified definition of “Russian influence” and “activities”. He believes the law “contradicts the principles of legality and non-retroactivity,” as it could disqualify officers for ten years for behavior that was legal at the time. gone.

The move comes just two days after the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice, confirmed that Poland has refused to comply with the bloc’s rules on judicial independence. The government has already been fined more than 500 million euros ($535 million) over that case but so far they refuse to pay.

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