WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President Andrzej Duda said Monday he will sign a bill that creates a powerful commission, ostensibly meant to investigate Russian influence in Poland but which critics view as a tool to remove from political life the political opponents of the ruling party, mostly notably opposition leader Donald Tusk.
Parliament on Friday approved the law, proposed by the right-wing ruling party, that may affect the outcome of fall parliamentary elections in which the ruling Law and Justice party is seeking a third term.
Experts say it violates Poland's Constitution and the opposition has called on Duda to reject it.
Duda said he was approving the bill because discussions on Russia's influence on politics are being held in the U.S. and in some European countries. He said a commission for investigating Russia's influences should also be formed at the European Union level.
He said transparency in public life is crucial and stressed that Poland has good experience in public commissions investigating key social and political matters.
“This is the defense of Poland,” Duda said.
The bill will take effect within a week of its publication.
The law would establish a state commission for investigating Russian influence in Poland and on national security. It is generally seen as targeting Tusk, a former prime minister who is now the leader of the main opposition Civic Coalition, at a time when early campaigning for the elections is underway.
Critics say the investigative commission, with powers to ban people from public positions and to reverse administrative and business decisions, would violate citizens’ right to face an independent court and is a clear example of how Law and Justice has been using the law for its own ends ever since coming to power in 2015.
They view the bill, which critics have dubbed “Lex Tusk,” as an attempt to create a powerful and unconstitutional tool that would help Law and Justice continue to wield power even if it loses control of the parliament in elections this fall.
Bowing partially to critics, Duda said he was also asking the Constitutional Tribunal to review the bill for conformity with the supreme law.
Tusk is to lead a pro-democracy march in Warsaw on June 4, the anniversary of the partly free parliamentary elections in 1989 that led to the ouster of communism.
The Associated Press