Poland’s Tusk Proposes Revival of Commission to Probe Russian Influence Amid Espionage Concerns

Poland’s Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, announced plans to resurrect a Polish commission tasked with investigating Russian influence, responding to heightened espionage fears following a recent asylum request by a Polish judge in Belarus.

The judge, Tomasz Szmydt, who had access to military secrets, sought asylum in Belarus, raising concerns about potential espionage activities targeting Poland, particularly given its role as a vital distribution hub for supplies to Ukraine.

Scheduled to preside over cases involving security clearances for NATO and European Union secrets, Szmydt’s asylum plea has triggered a probe by Polish prosecutors to ascertain if he was acting as a spy. Szmydt cited political persecution in Poland and cited disagreements with the country’s policies, alleging they were driving tensions with Belarus and Russia.

The revival of the commission, initially formed by Poland’s previous nationalist government, marks a significant shift, as it was previously criticized by Tusk’s Civic Coalition grouping for its perceived bias and potential for political persecution.

Tusk, addressing reporters after a security meeting to address the Russian and Belarusian spy threat, emphasized the need for a robust mechanism to investigate Russian interference in Polish politics, acknowledging constitutional reservations regarding the commission’s operation.

He tasked a cabinet member with coordinating Poland’s special services to devise recommendations for reactivating the commission, which had faced opposition from the European Union in the past and had remained inactive.

Former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended the commission’s establishment, attributing its shelving to opposition boycotts amid fears of uncovering inconvenient facts. Meanwhile, Polish border officials detained a Russian army defector at the Belarusian frontier, raising suspicions of potential involvement in Russian espionage activities.

Poland is intensifying efforts to ascertain the defector’s motives, probing whether he deserted due to the ongoing conflict or if he was tasked with carrying out missions for Russian intelligence services, underscoring the country’s vigilance against external security threats.