The accusation that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the chairman of themisused his power is at the center of a song that causes excitement in Poland. The song jumped to number one on the hit parade of a public radio station – and then disappeared again.
Now the broadcaster is accused of censorship. The scandal, which has become the subject of public debate, has led to several resignations of employees of the Polskie Radio 3 station ("Trojka" for short). Some musicians now want to boycott the program.
The affair has again raised concerns about media freedom in Poland. Since Kaczynski's party came to power in 2015, it has been using the public media as a propaganda tool – in violation of its neutrality requirement. In the past five years, Poland has slipped from 18th to 62nd place in the global press freedom ranking.
Kaczynski is not accused of claiming, for example, that the song should be removed from the hit parade chosen by the listeners. Government officials have also been critical of what happened. But the distance from the hit parade is seen as self-censorship – by overzealous helpers of a system in which democratic standards are threatened.
Wojciech Mann, a journalist who left Radio Trojka in March, said the story was at the bottom of the "ladder of fear" with Kaczynski at the top.
The song "Twój ból jest lepszy niż mój" (in German: Your pain is better than mine ") comes from the singer and songwriter Kazik Staszewski, better known by his first name Kazik. The text of the folk rock song alludes to the Kaczynski's visit to the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw on April 10. He angered many Poles because cemeteries were closed to the public at the time – as part of the measures to combat the spread of the corona virus.
Kaczynski's visit took place on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, in which his twin brother Lech Kaczynski died as well as 95 other airplane passengers. Jaroslaw Kaczynski was driven to the cemetery in a limousine and accompanied by bodyguards when he visited his mother's grave and paused at the memorial for the victims of the plane crash.
The song doesn't call Kaczynski by name, but it does speak of bodyguards, limousines, and an individual's visit to a closed cemetery. He also tells of other relatives who cannot grieve in the cemeteries.
Kazik's song was voted number one by the listeners of the hit parade "Lista Przebojów" ("LP3" for short), so it was broadcast on Radio Trojka on Friday. But the following day, the 1998th edition of "LP3" completely disappeared from the website. Channel director Tomasz Kowalczewski said there were irregularities in the voting. Later the broadcaster providedon the net, which suggests that the show's host manipulated the results.
Moderator Marek Niedzwiecki has moderated the hit parade "LP3" since its first edition in 1982, with only short interruptions. Angry, he now leaves the transmitter. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" quotes Niedzwiecki with the words, due to the conflict situation "and the assumption of unfairness in the preparation of the program, which I have been managing for more than 35 years, I am terminating the cooperation with the third program."
The third radio program of Polish radio has been in existence since 1962. During the period of communist rule, youth-oriented rock music was played there and a little more independence in reporting was allowed than in the other state-controlled media. Marcin Kydrynski, one of the journalists who have now left the station in protest, said he did not recognize the station.
Meanwhile, Radio Trojka has released a revised version of the hit parade, in which Kazik's song is in fourth place (behind a live recording of a title by the English band The Cure, thehad only been in 25th place). Before his solo work Kazik was known in Poland as a singer of the punk band Kult. On their Facebook page, he now published an email that he had written to Trojka – with the request that he no longer play his song.
Polish Minister of Culture Piotr Glinski said he rejected the song, but also its removal from the charts. Glinski said, however, that the whole scandal could also be a "provocation" from his point of view – and thus suggested that government opponents wanted to make the PiS look bad.