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Tusk Faces Polish Opposition Ire as Wprost Gives More Tapes

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Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Polish magazine that sent the government and zloty reeling by publishing secret recordings of key public figures is set to create further difficulties for Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Wprost today released a partial transcript of a conversation purportedly between Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and former Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, in which the former allegedly said Poland’s alliance with the U.S. is “worthless” because it fosters “a false sense of security” and breeds conflict with Germany and Russia. The discussion took place in late January or early February, Agnieszka Burzynska, a reporter for the magazine, said on TVN24.

Longer transcripts of four conversations will be published in tomorrow’s edition of the magazine, with edited versions of the recordings to follow, according to Burzynska. The government will respond once everything has been released, spokeswoman Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska said today by phone. Opposition parties called for a faster action.

“Prime Minister Tusk needs to speak to parliament,” Leszek Miller, head of the Democratic Left Alliance, said today in Warsaw, at a briefing broadcast on TVN24. “We expect he will propose a confidence vote to put an end to speculation that he’s lost the power to govern.”

Other Recordings

Wprost lifted Sikorski’s comments “out of the earlier context of the conversation,” which referred to what U.S.- Polish relations would have looked like had the opposition Law and Justice party remained in power, Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski wrote today in a text message.

Two recordings are of Tusk’s aide Pawel Gras talking with Jacek Krawiec, chief executive officer of the nation’s biggest oil refiner, PKN Orlen SA, and with billionaire Jan Kulczyk, Wprost reporter Michal Majewski wrote on his Twitter account.

Other officials on the tapes are Treasury Minister Wlodzimierz Karpinski and his deputy, Zdzislaw Gawlik, according to text on the image of the June 23 cover page that Wprost published on its Twitter account yesterday.

Poland’s political scene has been in uproar since Wprost on June 14 released recordings in which central bank Governor Marek Belka discussed with Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz steps to boost the economy and help the government win elections next year. Poland’s biggest opposition party yesterday called for Tusk to step down.

Snap Elections

While Belka has said the tape was “manipulated,” the release raised the possibility of early elections and undermined the central bank’s credibility.

“Early elections are definitely needed, but they need to be carried out by a technical government that can give some guarantee of honesty,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the opposition Law & Justice Party, said yesterday in the northwestern port city of Szczecin.

The junior party in the ruling coalition piled pressure on Tusk, who on June 19 said the country may be forced to hold elections.

A vote will be needed if more recordings emerge and other government members “are discredited,” Janusz Piechocinski, head of the Polish Peasants Party, which governs with Tusk’s Civic Platform, said in a June 20 interview with Gazeta Wyborcza. Piechocinski will meet with Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski tomorrow to discuss the crisis, PAP newswire reported today.

‘Unpleasant, Costly’

Public prosecutors, who are independent from the government, ordered a raid on Wprost by the Internal Security Agency in search of evidence. Televised pictures of agents trying to pry a laptop loose from Latkowski led to accusations the government was trying to intimidate the media. Tusk told reporters on June 19 that the incident was “unpleasant” and “costly to me.”

The incursion into an editorial office should never have taken place and was a “disgrace,” Deputy Justice Minister Michal Krolikowski said June 20 at a news conference in Warsaw. Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet said he’d be ready to step down if that would calm the situation.

Jacek Kondracki, the lawyer representing Wprost, handed over a computer memory stick with all recordings possessed by the magazine yesterday to prosecutors in Warsaw.

The zloty declined 0.5 percent to a 4.1689 per euro on June 20, the weakest level this month, extending losses to 1.2 percent over five days in its biggest weekly decline since January.

If Poland needs to hold an early ballot, it may take place in a “few” weeks or months, Tusk said on June 19. His coalition controls 234 votes in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, 32 of which belong to the Piechocinski’s party. A two-thirds majority, or 307 votes, is required for lawmakers to dissolve the legislature, making Civic Platform’s support necessary to pass any such measure.

To contact the reporters on this story: David McQuaid in Warsaw at dmcquaid1@bloomberg.net; Piotr Skolimowski in Warsaw at pskolimowski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Hellmuth Tromm at htromm@bloomberg.net Andrea Snyder

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