Walesa Faces Communist-Era Agent Claims in New Polish Documents

  • State agency gains documents from communist leader's widow
  • Walesa, now 72, denies collaborating with communist regime

The widow of Poland’s last communist prime minister has revealed what she claims are secret documents that tarnish the reputation of democracy icon Lech Walesa.

The National Remembrance Institute, a government agency that tracks communist- and Nazi-era crimes, said General Czeslaw Kiszczak’s widow Maria offered to sell it documents including ones about “secret agent Bolek,” the alleged code-name for Walesa. Prosecutors and institute officials found “packets of various papers” in Kiszczak’s home in Warsaw, Lukasz Kaminski, who heads the agency, told reporters on Wednesday. Kaminski said he didn’t know what was in the documents that are yet to be verified and archived.

Walesa, a former shipyard electrician, led Poland’s mass Solidarity movement which helped topple communism and became the country’s first elected president after communism fell in 1989. For years, he has fought allegations that he secretly worked for the old regime’s dreaded security apparatus. A special court in 2000 ruled that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who at 72 has largely withdrawn from day-to-day politics but remains a respected elder statesman, never collaborated with government agents.

“My husband ordered me to take these documents to the institute,” Kiszczak told the RMF FM radio station on Wednesday. She didn’t specify what the documents contained, saying only that “if it wasn’t for Kiszczak, there would be no Nobel Prize for a Pole, there would be no Polish hero.”

‘Absurd’ Claims

Walesa denies as “absurd” claims that he ratted on the activist colleagues that he ultimately led to victory over communism. He said Kiszczak and his agents had a track record of falsifying documents, seeking to discredit the opposition leader and prevent him from winning the Nobel Prize, which he did in 1983.

General Kiszczak, who died in November at age 90, was in charge of the secret services in the 1970s, then went on to become interior minister in the 1980s and served as prime minister for several months in 1989. For years, he effectively postponed a Polish court trial over his role in the killing of pro-democracy activists, citing ill health.

‘Entangled’ Agent

Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party has long argued that Walesa, along with scores of other pro-democracy activists who negotiated with the communists in the 1980s, were tainted by collaboration with the security services and ultimately sold out Poland.

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski told public television TVP Info on Wednesday that while Walesa played an “important role” in Polish history, “it was known, we all knew, that he was entangled with the secret services.” Development Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said it was “clear” that Walesa was a communist agent.

Walesa wrote on website that was being attacked by “small-minded” people, who sought to tarnish his legacy. As president between 1990-1995, Walesa fell out with Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whom he fired from a senior role in his chancellery and sidelined to years in opposition.

“These documents were found in the house of someone who was in charge of fabricating documents; they are worthless,” Jaroslaw Walesa, Lech’s son and a European Parliament lawmaker from an opposition party, told TVN24 television on Wednesday. “My father is a national hero, who with his determination and leadership helped to create a free Poland. It’s sad that we live in a country that often forgets that.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.