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Russian influence commission will not be appointed before elections

The members of a commission set up to investigate alleged Russian influence on Polish internal security will not be appointed in the current parliamentary term, a member of the governing Law and Justice party has told PAP.

The law establishing the commission, which will cover the years 2007 to 2022, came into force on May 31, but just after signing it into law, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, tabled an amendment.

The commission, which under the original law would have had the power to bar politicians from public office if they had been found to have been operating under Russian influence, was subjected to severe criticism with even the US and the EU expressing disapproval.

Critics feared, in particular, the commission could be used as political tool to prevent opposition leader Donald Tusk, who is also a former prime minister, from running in the parliamentary elections which will be held on October 15.

With no members the commission will be unable to exert the harmful influence its critics claim it could wield over the election campaign.

Asked by PAP when the commission’s members would be appointed, Marek Ast, a member of Law and Justice’s presidium, said that the amendment to the act prepared by the president, which entered into force at the beginning of August, has delayed the appointment of the commission.

“This meant that the time for appointing people to the committee was greatly reduced,” said Ast, adding that Elzbieta Witek, the speaker of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, did not decide to set a deadline for submitting candidates.

“We know that the commission was expected to begin its activity in the current term of the Sejm and continue in coming term, but the implementation of this law and the appointment of its members will be a task for next Sejm.”

The last sitting of the current term of the Sejm ended on Thursday.

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