Polish leader moves to cool tensions over media curbs

WARSAW • Polish President Andrzej Duda held talks yesterday to try to end a political crisis that has seen a parliamentary blockade and mass anti-government protests across the country.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets over the weekend to protest against proposed measures - including restrictions on media coverage of Parliament - put forth by the governing rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS).

Opposition anger boiled over on Friday with dozens of MPs seizing Parliament's main chamber over the media restrictions, with the sit-in by lawmakers still ongoing yesterday.

The PiS plans to grant access to the Parliament's press gallery to only two journalists from every media outlet, and wants to ban them from shooting still pictures or video. The moves prevent the media from recording images of lawmakers when they break the rules - for example, by voting for an absent colleague.

The PiS has defended the measure, saying it was seeking to ensure a comfortable working environment for both lawmakers and journalists.

After a meeting with media representatives late on Saturday, Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski said "the current regulations will continue, and we'll talk about new guidelines from Monday".

The government, which came to power about a year ago, has come under fire for a string of controversial measures including tightening the abortion law and making changes to the Polish constitutional court's decision-making rules.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2016, with the headline 'Polish leader moves to cool tensions over media curbs'. Print Edition | Subscribe