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Polish leader: crisis may force early elections

June 19, 2014
Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's prime minister said Thursday that early elections within weeks may be necessary if an expanding political crisis sparked by eavesdropping on political leaders is not contained.

Donald Tusk called for the Polish magazine Wprost — and other media — to release all of the secret recordings of leaders' private conversations that they may have. He said Poland was facing a "deep crisis" and that until it is all published the state will be unstable and his team vulnerable to blackmail.

The hastily arranged news conference on a national holiday sparked a whirl of speculation of an imminent dismissal of one or more officials, or possibly even Tusk's resignation. But responding to a journalist's question, Tusk said he saw no reason to step down.

He said early elections "in a matter of a few or more weeks" may be necessary if this "crisis of confidence becomes too deep."

The news conference followed an attempt Wednesday evening by police and state prosecutors to seize evidence from the headquarters of the magazine. The chief editor, Sylwester Latkowski, put up strong resistance and the authorities left without taking away any computers.

Wprost recently released secretly made recordings of a restaurant conversation last July between National Bank of Poland chief Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, in which they discussed how the central bank might use its power to help the government win re-election in 2015. Critics have decried the apparent collusion as a violation of the bank's independence from political interference.

Tusk and both politicians say the discussion was about hypothetical scenarios and had no influence on policy.

At one point in the conversation, Belka is heard demanding that Jacek Rostowski be removed as Poland's finance minister. Rostowski was fired four months later.

The magazine said it is working to have more recordings published on Monday. It says it obtained the recordings from a third party which it has not identified.

The manager of the restaurant, identified only as Lukasz N., was detained and has been charged with two criminal counts. In Poland, bugging or wiretapping to get unauthorized access to information is punishable by up to two years in prison.



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