Gazeta Wyborcza

Confessions of an anti-Soviet russophile

One ought to know and talk about what goes on in Russia. That is why I went to the Valdai Club meeting and to Yaroslav, even though I was worried that my trip would end up as a photo-op with President Putin. In spite of warnings I decided to attend the September meeting of the Valdai Club and the Forum in Yaroslav.  The participants of both meetings included domestic and foreign Russia experts, journalists and politicians, as well as top Russian government officials, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attending the former and President Dmitry Medvedev the latter.   By participating, […]

Wajda’’s Katyń and the Slovenian Antigone

When Andrzej Wajda’’s film Katyń was shown in Slovenia this spring, first in cinemas and then on public television, it aroused enormous audience interest but was met with almost complete silence in the media. Slovenian public opinion is tired of the issue of post-war mass murder and the seemingly endless discoveries of mass graves. The film advertisements talked of exposing Europe’’s greatest lie of the century and of the Polish nation’’s profound trauma.  After the screening a number of film critics analyzed the film’’s aesthetic values and discussed its narrative techniques yet nobody took notice of the universal message of this horrific […]

Katyń is more than just Katyń

My first wife Wiesława, who is Polish, called me thirty minutes after the disaster, relieved to have received the news that her brother Damian – a cameraman with Polish TV – was alive, since Kaczyński had not taken any journalists on board. I was happy for Damian. I did not check the information regarding journalists. Damian could not have perished anyway since he’’d gone to Katyń with Tusk and stayed there… But now Katyń has claimed fresh victims from Poland. There is a monstrous, mystical sense in this bloodthirstiness that reflects a fatalist consciousness which is characteristic of the Russian […]

A Great Tragedy has Befallen Poland

This is the greatest tragedy that has befallen our country since General Władysław Sikorski perished in an air crash. We share the pain of the nearest and dearest of the President and his wife, as well as of the nearest and dearest of all the victims of this appalling tragedy. Our grief must be communal, non-partisan and non-political. Our joint responsibility for Poland, too, must be non-partisan and non-political. Poland must remain stable and secure. Lech Kaczyński has left an indelible mark on Polish history. Historians will take stock of his achievements. Today is not the time for making nuanced judgements. […]

Renouncing Humanity

June 4, 1989 was an important day in the history of communism. It was the first time a communist party in power, having agreed to submit to an election contest, suffered a crushing defeat and accepted the loss. Yet it was not this event that made front-page news in the world’’s newspapers. The event that did was the Tiananmen Square massacre in the centre of Beijing, where the communist regime annihilated the Chinese students’’ movement for freedom. That is why June 4 now stands for two ways communist dictatorships responded to a major crisis, choosing the path of democracy or […]

So what if he’s made it all up

1 There is a scene somewhere in Ebony in which Kapuściński and his travelling companion discover a huge poisonous snake in the shed where they have to spend the night. I don’’t have my copy handy, perhaps it was cobra or maybe another kind of snake. For some reason, they have to put the serpent to death. They use a petrol can as their weapon. They press it down on the snake trying to crush it. They both lie down on the jerry can in an attempt to mash the beast to a pulp. The snake will not give in […]

When will Putin’s patience run out?

Wacław Radziwinowicz:  Russian and international public opinion alike accepts that while civil liberties have been significantly curtailed in the ten years under Vladimir Putin, order has been restored.  A strong machinery effectively carries out orders of the central government.  Would you agree with this assessment? Andrey Piontkovsky:  I agree that liberties have been curtailed. But I don’’t agree with singing the praises of an alleged reform of the state machinery and the restoration of order in the country. That is a lie, a Putin propaganda demagoguery imposed by the Kremlin TV, which is the only source of information for 95% […]

dB, or a Brief History of Noise

Recently a Swedish journalist came to Ljubljana to interview me and I took him to lunch in a Ljubljana restaurant. After a few minutes we realized that our interview would come to nothing unless we started shouting at each other as if we were standing on two opposite hills or banks of a wide river, for the music blasting from the speakers was so loud it was impossible to order our food, let alone conduct an interview. So I politely asked the waiter (i.e. I shouted at him) if he could be so kind as to slightly turn down the […]

A post-American Europe

The era of post-American Europe has begun. It is not a Europe abandoned by Americans or a Europe deprived of American security guarantees; neither is it a creature that is likely to vanish should the Republicans enter the White House in 2012. Post-American Europe represents a new geo-political order in which the Old Continent is no longer at the centre of America’’s strategic interests, one in which the decision about a new constellation of powers depends primarily on Europeans themselves. It also means that American obligations towards their European allies will depend on the allies’’ readiness to support US policies […]

Inhumanity Is Part of Human Nature / Part II.

Jean-Paul Sartre once shocked the reading public by making the paradoxical claim that the French had never been as free as during the German occupation. It was, he claimed, only a seeming paradox since one gets trapped by free choice that disguises necessity – and for the French were deprived of the temptation of this trap by the German occupiers who left them no choice. And if the French were left with no choice, the same applies to the Poles a hundred times more so! After all, some of the German satraps tried to woo the French, promising them a […]