“One is the president, the other is the prime minister. The Kaczynski twins run Poland with a single, seemingly xenophobic mind. Are the brothers turning the country into the laughing stock of Europe?”
John Cornwell in The Sunday Times
Pint-sized, rotund, with anachronistic choirboy haircuts, the monozygotic Kaczynskis (“Cash-inskis”) – President Lech and Prime Minister Jaroslaw – dream of bringing Poland to “rightful” prominence on the world stage.
First they aim to rid the nation of corruption by purging Poland’s enemy within – every communist collaborator, however minor or reluctant (a task, in their view, left undone after the Soviet collapse in 1991). Then they intend to raise a beacon of Catholic Polish nationalism to shine out across a continent sunk in materialism, pornography, homosexuality and godlessness – their frank estimation of the European Union that welcomed them in 2004.
And there are other fatter, more dangerous fish to fry. The twins see Poland as the only credible bastion against the re-emergence of the ancient “Prussian-Russian threat”. Bloated with gas and oil reserves, Russia is running its pipelines under the Baltic, bypassing Poland, straight into Germany, a move the Kaczynskis view as a repetition of the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, which preceded the carve-up of their country. To combat the new Russo-Teutonic alliance, the twins have been earnestly lobbying George W Bush to plant anti-missile missiles on Poland’s southern frontier. George W, it seems, is happy to oblige. So Putin has torn up his arms-limitation agreement with Nato (to which Poland belongs) and is threatening to aim his nuclear warheads westwards again, reviving fears of a new cold war. The Polish leaders see themselves as saviours of western civilisation, akin to King Jan III Sobieski, who stood up to massed Islamic Turks at the Gates of Vienna in the 17th century, or the legendary Polish general Joseph Pilsudski, who duffed up Red Army hordes at Kiev in 1920. While George W Bush courts Poland’s twins, Russia is stoking its own anti-Polish grievances. Putin’s Russia, flush with energy revenues, is beginning to see itself once more as a player in the world, thwarted by a puny neighbour that is attempting to spoil its links with Germany and France by playing dangerous missile games with America.