Poland’s opposition has sharpened its pitch to the ruling party’s supporters after reports that government officials used a fast-track visa process for migrants for personal gain.
(Bloomberg) — Poland’s opposition has sharpened its pitch to the ruling party’s supporters after reports that government officials used a fast-track visa process for migrants for personal gain.
The developing scandal threatens to engulf the Law & Justice party’s government a month before a tightly-contested parliamentary election.
In an address on public television, Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki, citing media reports, said that bribes were involved in allowing more than 250,000 citizens of African and Asian countries to work in Poland over the past two and a half years. Poland’s foreign ministry disputed the numbers in a separate statement on Friday.
Read more: Visa Accusations Heat Up Polish Campaign Ahead of October Vote
The accusation hit close to home for the Law & Justice party. The government has called a referendum on the EU’s migrant relocation plan in conjunction with the election on Oct. 15. It built a fence on the border with Belarus and has warned the country will be overrun by illegal migrants were the opposition to take power.
“I’d like to ask those of you who have not yet heard about the visa scandal – check various sources of information. Talk to your neighbors, your children and grandchildren,” Grodzki, who as speaker of Poland’s upper house is the highest-ranking opposition figure, said on Friday. “This truth must reach everywhere.”
The rare appearance of the Senate speaker on public television comes as the state broadcaster has largely downplayed the scale of the scandal, which led to a dismissal a month ago of Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk.
Polish embassy officials were allegedly told to expedite visas, a process that involves a $5,000 fee, according to media reports. It’s not clear who profited from the transactions.
Read more: After Weaponizing Immigrants, Europe’s East Finds It Needs Them
Media Freedom Rapid Response, a group of European press freedom organizations, said following its mission in Warsaw this week that the state television “was failing in the fundamental duty of any public broadcaster to provide fair and balanced political coverage between and during elections.”
The Law & Justice party is leading in the opinion polls a month before the election, but may struggle to muster a majority in the next parliament to stay in power for a third consecutive term.
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