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Polish book revives informer claims against Walesa

A Polish newspaper published excerpts from “Walesa and the Security Service,” a new book purporting to prove that former anti-communist leader Lech Walesa once informed for the communist secret police.
/ Source: Reuters

A Polish newspaper published excerpts on Tuesday of a new book purporting to prove that former anti-communist leader Lech Walesa once informed for the communist secret police, claims he has repeatedly denied.

The claims are not new but the book by two historians working for the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) — which supervises files from the communist era — cites what it says are previously unknown documents linking Walesa to the secret police in the early 1970s.

Walesa, a Nobel Peace Laureate and one-time leader of the Solidarity movement that toppled Polish communism in 1989, has long denied the claims of collaboration.

His office declined to comment on Tuesday on the excerpts, published in the Rzeczpospolita daily, but newspapers say Walesa plans to sue the authors when “Walesa and the Security Service” goes on sale next Monday.

In their book, Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk also say that, while serving as Poland's first post-communist president in 1990-1995, Walesa removed from the state archive documents they say proved his communist-era collaboration.

The allegations about Walesa's past surfaced in 1992. A vetting court ruled in 2000 that he had never been an agent for the secret police and Walesa, now 64, has won several court cases on the issue.

President Lech Kaczynski revived the allegations in a television program and last week, Walesa responded angrily by demanding that Kaczynski be removed from office.

The animosity between the two men dates back to the 1990s when Kaczynski started questioning Walesa's leading role in Solidarity.

The book's allegations have exposed divisions within the IPN highlighting how sensitive Poland's recent past remains.

Maria Dmochowska, deputy director of the institute, distanced herself from the book in a letter to Walesa published by Polish newspapers on Tuesday.

“Only if you see the world around you from the perspective of the secret police can you view (the Walesa story) in this way (as presented by the book),” she wrote.