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„Szymczyk's resignation is almost certain, and the ministry is looking for a successor for him,' an informant tells us. Another one adds: - Szymczyk knows that he has fallen out of favour and feels that this is the last moment to do something significant for the image of the police.
Police reaction was supposed to be “tough and decisive”
The events of the last two weeks are the reason for Szymczyk's departure. According to our unofficial information, 'large police operations were planned for 25 October’ - the first Sunday after the announcement of the Constitutional Tribunal’s that de facto banned all abortions in the country. - Smaller police units were being told on Saturday that the demonstrations should be treated as illegal. Therefore, our approach was supposed to be the same as usual for illegal crowds on the streets. That is to say, tough,' says a policeman from one of the provincial precincts.
He adds that on Sunday morning, however, at a meeting with the Chief Commander, the police was told 'to act in a balanced, cautious manner, protecting the weak from the strong, which is the way the police should work'. - Each of us has wives, mothers. The scale of the protests surprised us all. In my town, 3 percent of the population took to the streets! I know that even the organisers did not expect this," he stresses. - Then we heard from our superiors that our reaction is correct, because it is the job of the police to de-escalate, and that we should act in such a way that we do not cause riots. We know that this strategy was possible thanks to Szymczyk.
Our sources in the government say that the Deputy Prime Minister for Security, Jarosław Kaczyński, to whom the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice are subordinate, was in favour of a quick and forceful dispersal of the protesters. Some ministers even say that he demanded Szymczyk's resignation, but the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, stood up.
- Kaczyński is experiencing a cultural shock, he is sitting in Aleje Jerozolimskie and listening to whispers from Brudziński (PiS MEP and former Minister of Internal Affairs) or Terlecki (Deputy Speaker of Sejm). There is a herd of madmen in PiS who would like to treat protesters with water cannons,' says our interlocutor from the party headquarters. He explains: - What would we get in return? Western media would show images of women being beaten up in Poland. Perhaps a rebellion in the police would break out, because not everyone would like to follow such orders. And there are shortages of staff, the officers do not earn much, they would go on health leave. After such events we would no longer have any room for manoeuvre, no movements against the protesters.
On the sixth day of the protests, the Law and Justice Party unexpectedly released a video with Kaczyński's speech. In it, the Deputy Prime Minister and party chairman said that 'the authorities have not only the right but also the duty to oppose the demonstrations. These protests must be opposed, it is our duty, the duty of the citizens'. Further he called on his supporters to “defend Poland, let us defend patriotism, and let us show our determination and courage. (...) Today is the time when we must be able to say 'no' to everything that can destroy us. But it depends on the state, its forces, but above all on us, on our determination and courage. Let us defend Poland,' he concluded.
Kamiński spoke only once on this matter, but in his speech he focused only on the Catholic masses that had been interrupted and on the devastation of churches. On the other hand, Zbigniew Ziobro, the Minister for Justice and the General Attorney, ordered the prosecution of the organisers of the 'illegal protests'. - Such people will be treated as criminals. They face up to eight years in prison for endangering public health and life' said Deputy Minister of Justice, Michał Woś, on pro-government, Catholic fundamentalist Radio Maryja.
Szymczyk has had enough
Two days after Kaczyński's speech, Szymczyk explained on the Polish Radio that the police did not act mildly. He elaborated: - So far we have detained nearly 80 people in connection with aggressive behaviour during the protests. We are conducting over 100 proceedings for the devastation of buildings. In any case of aggression or devastation, the police response is immediate.
But he also explained that a gathering of more than five people during a pandemic is not a crime but misdemeanour. Misdemeanours do not give police officers grounds for detention.
Now Szymczyk has to pay for this attitude. Last week, he did not participate in the video conference of the regional commanders, while his deputies were present. - Some of the deputies and some of the voivodship commanders could also be dismissed together with Szymczyk. Szymczyk himself thinks about his retirement, he is polishing his English and is planning on going to Interpol,' one of the officers told us. In his opinion, "Szymczyk will leave after 11 November because of his state of health - this is probably how they will do it“.
Media continue to speculate about what will happen next. Onet.pl reported that the chief executive is likely to be forced to resign because of pressure from the side of politicians. At the same time, the website reports that his fate is tied to that of Kamiński, since the party executive believes that Szymczyk is working in tandem with his political superior. Following the violent clashes on November 11, during which the police lost control of the situation and chaotically used force not only against the far-right rioters but also against journalists and bystanders, Kamiński’s dismissal is strongly considered by Kaczyński.
Among Szymczyk's possible successors are Paweł Dobrodziej, the head of the Warsaw’s police force, and Andrzej Łapiński, the regional commander in Gdańsk and earlier in Łódź. Dobrodziej was responsible, among other things, for police actions during the May protests of entrepreneurs. Łapiński, on the other hand, likes to show himself around PiS politicians. A week before the 2019 European elections, he danced and sang at the Congress of Rural Housewives' Circles in Opoczno together with Joanna Kopcińska and Witold Waszczykowski (today MEPs) and Antoni Macierewicz.
- We heard that the new chiefs are to deal with the protests firmly. We are wondering what to do. Going for health leave is not a solution, because we would not know who would stand up against women and what would be their attitude. And we are supporting the protests,' says our interlocutor from the police.
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