A former anti-communist dissident and the “clash of civilizations” in Poland

The post-communist good old boy network in Poland has former dissident and anti-communist politician, Antoni Macierewicz, in its crosshairs.


By Paweł Piotr Styrna | February 20, 2013


Marek Dochnal Antoni Macierewicz

On November 23, 2012, in a grave miscarriage of justice, Polish parliamentarian and opposition politician, Antoni Macierewicz, was deprived of his immunity as a legislator by a post-communist/left-liberal coalition in Poland’s lower chamber. What terrible offense did Mr. Macierewicz commit to warrant such punishment?

Quite simply, he dared to suggest that Marek Dochnal—a notorious lobbyist/facilitator of the plunder of Poland’s assets by the post-communist oligarchy, who was convicted of bribery in June of last year—was not an independent businessman, but one connected to “some kind of network,” thereby implying Dochnal’s links to the organized crime/post-communist intelligence complex and ties to the Soviet and post-Soviet agentura. The kleptocrat quickly sued Macierewicz for “slander” and influenced the defenders of the post-1989 post-communist/liberal consensus (i.e., the Round Table order) in the Polish Sejm (lower house of parliament), primarily but not exclusively the ruling party (Civic Platform), to promptly revoke the deputy’s immunity to render him open to criminal prosecution. He remains without the protection offered by parliamentary immunity. Dochnal makes it clear that the goal of his initiative is to kill Macierewicz’s political career: “Once convicted of lying about me, he [Macierewicz] will be compelled to forget about serving as a parliamentarian.”

A few words about the plaintiff are in order. Dochnal is known as the “main treasurer of the [post-communist] left.” He loves Polo and rubbing elbows with high society. According to numerous investigative journalistic reports, the stench of dishonest business practices has followed him since his university days. In 1994, he founded Larchmont Capital, whose stated objective was to serve as a “consultant” for foreign investors participating in the privatization of Poland’s state-owned enterprises. Among his partners Dochnal had Russian national Sergey Gavrilov, who was eventually deported from Poland in 1997 as a spy for the Kremlin. In February 2012, Dochnal was charged with embezzling $21 million for “consulting” in the privatization of the Częstochowa Steel Mill, and in June he was convicted for bribing a post-communist politician in exchange for insider information on the privatization of key sectors of the nation’s economy. Thus, over time, Dochnal has become a very powerful, well connected and enormously wealthy person, despite his own legal problems.

Of course, Antoni Macierewicz has been sued by post-communists plenty of times before. The post-communists and their liberal allies have, after all, weaponized the Adam Michnik method of dragging their critics through the courts to censor and silence opposing views. The Dochnal case seems to have only served as a pretext to destroy an honorable individual, whom the post-communists hate with a vengeance. Macierewicz’s biography explains just why.

He was born into a family with long-standing patriotic traditions. Macierewicz’s father—a chemist, Christian Democratic activist before the Second World War, and a member of the anti-Nazi, anti-Communist underground during and after the conflict—preferred to commit suicide rather than be taken alive by the communists. From his youngest days, Antoni Macierewicz was involved with various anti-communist opposition movements, including the patriotic Scouts, the Committee to Defend Workers (KOR), and “Solidarity.”

During the post-communist era, Macierewicz served in anti-communist Polish governments in various capacities. Thus, as Jan Olszewski’s minister of the interior in 1991-1992, he attempted to carry out legislation to publicize the names of communist secret police collaborators in the government. In response, the Olszewski cabinet was dismissed as a result of a joint action of President Lech Wałęsa (whose name was on the “Macierewicz List”) and post-communist and liberal parties in the parliament. In the government of Jarosław Kaczyński (2006-2007), Mr. Macierewicz also served as deputy minister of defense. He oversaw the dissolution of the Military Information Services (WSI)—a hold-over from the communist era with roots in the Soviet GRU—and the establishment of a new military counterintelligence service along with the verification of its functionaries. Not surprisingly, most of the law suits lodged against him emanate from circles associated with the ex-WSI (including its former head, Gen. Marek Dukaczewski) and, by extension, the KGB and GRU. These believe that it is their birthright to rule over Poland, and consider the dissolution of the WSI—which one expert dubbed “Russia’s periscope” into the country—a punishable offense.

More recently, since April 2010, Antoni Macierewicz headed an independent parliamentary committee to investigate the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding the Smolensk Plane Crash. Given that the “Macierewicz Commission” has discovered evidence of two explosions which essentially overturned the Moscow-Warsaw official narrative of the tragedy (“pilot error”), the presence of its chairman has become even more inconvenient for the ruling party. The revocation of his parliamentary immunity in November was apparently an attempt to intimidate Macierewicz. The former dissident has been undeterred in his fight to get to the bottom of the Smolensk Crash, however.

This incident and other campaigns waged by the post-communists against Mr. Macierewicz during the past twenty years demonstrate clearly that post-communism is not tantamount to freedom and democracy. “Post-communism” is, quite simply, communism transformed – regardless of whether it tolerates very little liberty, as in many post-Soviet states, or quite a lot of it, as in Poland and the Baltics. Communism, in turn, stands in stark contradiction to classical Western, Judeo-Christian ethical values and virtues. One of its features was the destruction of traditional elites with their ethos of service to society and their replacement, through the process of “negative selection,” with government careerists and opportunists concerned primarily about themselves rather than the future of the Polish nation. This explains the political warfare taking place between their genetic or ideological descendants with the survivors of Poland’s traditional patriotic elites. Indeed, this conflict, and the contempt and hatred that the former feel for the latter—often their former victims—is more than mere partisan bickering; it is, in many ways, a “clash of civilizations.”


Paweł Styrna has an MA in modern European history from the University of Illinois, and is currently working on an MA in international affairs at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, where he is a research assistant to the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies. Mr. Styrna is also a Eurasia analyst for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.