Braveheart vs ruthless system 0:1. Scottish teacher gives up on teaching in a Polish school.

1 02 2008

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza, 1. Feb. 2008
Authors: Małgorzata Kozerawska, Marcin Markowski
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

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Iain comes from Scotland. He’s 34. Loose-fitting sweater and jeans. He switches to first-name terms immediately. He’s been living in Poland for the last four years, teaching English in private schools in Łódź. He’s a native speaker of English, wanting to teach in a state-run secondary school as well. He found work at the reputable IV Liceum Ogólnokształcące where he taught to an elitist International Baccalaureate class. He lasted a week.

Iain tells his story

My first day at work, Monday. I had to wait 15 minutes to get to the staff room. I didn’t have a key, and there was no one to ask for it. Then it turned out photocopying paper ran out. I was told students have to pay for the paper.
Day two, Wednesday. I telephoned one of my students, as I didn’t know where’s my class going to be. The person responsible for contacting me was on a sick leave. Room 12 I was told. Teachers tell me there is no room 12. I telephone my student again. Turns out room twelve belongs to another school. And there was no blackboard.
Day three, Friday. I went to the headteacher to find out where’s my class going to be. She decided it’s going to be the computer room. There was a blackboard this time, but no tables.
Day four, another Monday. I came to the school earlier to prepare for classes and photocopy some material. There was no one at the reception, where they key to the staff room was. I opened the geography room at 8 and waited for students. No one was coming. After 15 minutes I was going to grab a cup of coffee, when my student rang. He was asking if I’m coming to classes, as everyone was waiting in the computer room. I was thinking: why is the lesson to take place in an inappropriate class, when a better class is free?

After classes I went to see a doctor for an obligatory medical check-up. I had to go private and pay, although the school has its (free) doctor. I wasn’t able to use his services, because I had to be at my other job when he receives patients. At the surgery I was told the school should have given me a standard form. No one told me about this at the school. I went back. Secretary said, sarcastically, that she’ll take care of me because apparently as a foreign teacher I was more important than other teachers.

Secretary sent me to accountant, who gave me several forms and asked not to get upset as “this is how things are in a state-run school in Poland”. Same with class registers. I’ve seen other teachers using them, I didn’t get to. Plus there weren’t many teaching aids.

Iain wrote about all this in a letter to the headteacher. He said goodbye to the students and left this job. ‘I would like to donate my wages to the the school, as it’s obvious the school needs it more than me’, he wrote.

The Headteacher

Katarzyna Felde, headteacher at the school where Iain worked. Energetic, practical mathematician, ‘I was seeking an Eglish teacher for the IB class, because the former teacher relocated to Britain. Students have found Iain. He had a friendly attitude. He asked to show him around the school. He wanted to know where his class was, where was the smoking room, where are keys being picked up from. I never had this before.
He got a huge geography room, in which he moved all tables to the middle. It wouldn’t make sense to move furniture there and back all the time, so I moved his classes to room 12. It belongs to the afternoon school. Yes, there was no blackboard. So I moved his class to computer room. And there was problem again. Everyone there sits facing the wall, turned back at the teacher. But Iain didn’t come to me to say he had a problem with something. How was I to know?
The staff room door has an automatic lock. Keys are to be picked at reception. Iain knew about this. I couldn’t have predicted he’d come to school at 7.15 am. There was no one at the reception yet. And none of the teachers. They don’t come an hour before lessons. They prepare to classes at home. At 7, there’s only the caretaker in the building.
Unfortunately students pay for photocopying. We don’t have money for that. As for the medical examinations: we have a contract with a specific doctor, and we directed Iain to him. I have no control over his opening hours. And we’re lacking teaching aids for all teachers. You have to organize it on your own. I told him. You need something – we’ll buy. But not now. We’re getting the money from the city council, and it has to be in their budget.

So what will happen with the class now? Headteacher: I’ll look for another teacher, probably not a native speaker this time. I got discouraged. After all it’s a different culture, it’s hard to fit to one another. A Polish teacher doesn’t need to be guided step by step and introduced to everything. And won’t go on complaining like a child.
Iain came from a country where everything is ready and prepared. He was, in fact, treated better then Polish teachers. Some of them have been upset with this. Yesterday one of the parents rang me asking what will I do to get him back. That’s over the board. I bear no grudge against him, but I’m not going to look for him, or say sorry, either. I have nothing to say sorry for. He’s worked eight hours in our school earning 160zł, which will be paid to him

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Are Kaczyńskis psychopaths? Psychologist analyses Polish leaders’ personalities

16 12 2007

Source: Przekrój weekly
link to the original article
translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

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Interview with Elżbieta Sołtys, 52, social psychologist. She graduated from Jagiellonian University’s Psychology Department in 1980 and completed her second level of professional specialisation in developmental psychology. She is a supervisor at the Polish Psychological Society and at the Non-Governmental Organisations Trainers’ Association. She was a member of the consultations body at the Ministry of Education. She is the author of 2001 executive regulations on psychological-developmental counselling. She works as a trainer for the Foundation for Children and Youth and businesses. Ten years ago she founded the Elżbieta Sołtys Psychological Workshop, a company running trainings for businesspeople, teachers and personal advisers.

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Paweł Moskalewicz: Jarosław Kaczyński (former Polish PM, current leader of the Law and Justice Party) feels offended with his party deputies, he wants to thorow them out of the party…

Elżbieta Sołtys: Like a child!

A child?

– Sure! Uncontrolled outbreaks of anger on anyone who doesn’t agree with us is a feature of very young children playing in a sandpit.

You think he didn’t grow up?

– Not a slightest bit. Jarosław Kaczyński, like his brother Lech, is not capable of managing his anger and negative emotions. When something bad happens, something not in compliance with their expectations, they explode like a volcano.

You think they’re immature?

– That’s right, in some respects. We can judge someone’s maturity considering intellectual and emotional development. Intellectually Kaczynskis are OK, they’ve completed their degrees, even an LLD in Lech’s case. Jarosław is a master of political games and strategies. But emotionally they’re kindergarten.

Where do you think this comes from?

– In my opinion from some traumatic experiences in childhood. Maybe it’s parent’s fault. Have they been punishing them? Demanding too much from them? I don’t know, but the twins seem a classic example of strict, even toxic raising.

The world didn’t love them, so they don’t love it back?

– Look a the way they act. They feel offended all the time, they are vindictive… Why? It’s pretty characteristic for twins. They have their own small, closed world – twin brother is the most important significant other. And they stimulate each other, convincing that they are alone in front of a hostile world, and everyone around are wrong. This is a classic closed circle.

And it has its source in childhood?
– Most likely – yes. And judging by the symptoms – and also looking at their mother – I’m convinced that they have experienced very strict parenting. You have to be behave properly, showing emotions like anger, discontent is prohibited… It has to explode eventually.

How?

– As growing, cumulating anger. Please notice, that they were always the losers. It didn’t work out for them with Lech Wałęsa, then long years of political non-existence, and then finally something starts to work out. Lech, always pushed to the front by Jarosław, became the president of the Supreme Chamber of Control, Minister of Justice, the mayor of Warsaw. Finally a total success, full power over the country – and after just a half term in office: disaster. Suddenly you have give everything back.

Is this the reaso behind the president’s silence after the election?

– This has been terrible for him. The twin brother, the guru and guide for many year, has lost. Of course not because he had done anything wrong. The omnipresent evil ‘grey grid’, that lead to undeserved failure of Law and Justice party.

So the president went silent, not only, breaking the custom and not congratulating the election winner, but also distancing himself from co-workers?

– For him these days must have been terrible. He needed to hide somewhere for sometime, and relax. Now he’s shaken it off a bit, but I don’t think he’ll recover. We are still facing, in my opinion, rows over new acts, ambassadors – although the president has already had his end as a political player. In my opinion it is likely he won’t last until the end of his term.

Will he resign? Will he be impeached by the parliament?

– I don’t know, I’m not a constitutionalist, but a psychologist. I see a man who is completely scattered, unable to perform the function of the most important office in this country. I’m also very attached to to my theory, that the whole life of the Kaczynski brothers is determined by their children role in the movie The Two Who Stole The Moon. There we have a happy-end: Zapiecek, alegorical Poland, turns normal, everyone’s doing better, there is no place for revolutionaries. Going along the analogy – there has to be a happy ending. Jacek and Placek (as the twins are called in the movie) return to mum, and only then they become better, more mature people. I hope that Kaczynskis here will disappear too, and then finally grow up.

Are you being serious with them re-living the fairy tale?

– I am serious. We could multiply the analogies… but let’s take the closest one. The citizens of the “City of Gold” from the movie were inquiring the twins about the taste and price of bread. Did you see how Jarosław Kaczynski lost his temper, during the election debate, when Donald Tusk asked him whether he knew what was the price of bread in Poland? This could not have been accidental…

Let’s go back to what is going on today. Do you think that a mature c-operation between the president Lech Kaczynski and prime minister Donald Tusk is possible?

– I hope so. Because Donald Tusk, whom I have been observing for some time, has learned a lot and today he’s a mature politician, pragmatic, someone who seeks agreement. However I’m worried about the president. Some of his compulsive behaviours indicate a situation, when the intellectual brain separates too much from the emotional brain. In this case, there are even some signals that may indicate a mental disease. Please note for instance the presidents signature. I don’t want to be know-all here, a graphologist would need to analyse this, but for me it’s a signature of someone with personality disorder.

Believing in omnipresent conspiracy doesn’t make networking easier, does it?

– That’s right. Both brothers, Jarosław even a bit more, have this vision of world as a place controlled by evil people and dark powers. Everyone around is involved with conspiracies, you can trust nobody. This kind of look at the reality is very characteristic for people not having the ability to feel empathy, who lack basic communication skills. And could everything be all right with a guy, who lives with his mum until now, and went on a first date when he was 21?

But Kaczynskis have co-workers, friends, people they trust…

– And just look how they choose these people! They are all losers, and people with completely immature personalities.

Mr Ziobro? (former Minister of Justice)

– Beatiful example. Absolutely immature, hibernated child. Suspicious, unhealthily ambitious, hungry for power at all costs. In my opinion, it’s a result of some kind of traum, probably experienced when he was two-three. Such things stay… Kaczynski surround themselves only with this kind of people. Mr Szczygło, Miss Kruk and Miss Szczypińska – emotionally unstable loners.

W rumour going around the media says that Miss Szczypińska MP and Jarosław Kaczyński have more in common than an everyday fight for law and justice.

– I heard. When you recall her public appearances, it is possible to see her enchantment with Jarosław, but this has nothing to do with normal relationships people engage in. Generally I distinguish several stages of falling in love typical for different age groups and level of emotional development: the puppy love, the teenage love (when we pick someone to admire and stare at them, put pictures and posters of them on ur walls etc.), the romantic love (when we experience first elations in the arms of the beloved) and the mature love. The platonic admiration of Miss Szczypińska seems like the teenage love, although as I understand, she was 12 quite some time ago.

But you won’t say that Ludwik Dorn (former Speaker of the Sejm), who’s been Kaczynski’s faithful comrade for many years, avoids women?

– He loves Saba (his famous dog) the most…

There were some women in his life, weren’t they?

– But each of these relationships ended badly! All the relations were impermanen. Permanent and strong is his relation with his dog. Medicine, long ago, described cases where people with slightly psychopathic personalities were engaging in much stronger emotional relationships with animal than with people.

What about his long-lasting friendship with the Kaczynskis?

– There never was any friendship! The Kaczynskis are not capable. What brought them together was the same aim. When a pack of wolves attacks a herd of cattle or travellers in the woods, will you say that they are friends? Here we have exactly he situation with a pack of wolves. When other wolves question the power of the leader of the pack, he has to kill his competitors.

So what happens next to the pack? Jarosław Kaczyński will most likely defend his position in the party and…

– … and this will give him nothing, because Law and Justice party will continue to lose importance. People will be leaving the party in contempt with Jarosław’s authoritarian attitudes. The mutiny of the three (now former) deputy presidents of the party are just the beginning. Another thing is that Law and Justice went through the illness of every party in power. Many members signed in, who always join the winning team. Now they’ll start leaving and Kaczynski will do the rest, obsessively sniffing for conspiracies within his own ranks, and cleansing the party from everyone who’s not perfectly obedient. This party is on a downward slope.

This party was to be the force to assure Lech Kaczynski’s second term in presidents office.

– There won’t be any second term.

How can you be so sure? You’re saying that the Kaczynskis are childish, but it is Donald Tusk who was seen as a ‘little boy’ for many years. Poles, however, want to have a serious president.

– And who lead Citizens Platform to victory at the ballot boxes? We trust Tusk like no other, people appreciate the work he had done to improve himself. He’s friendly, open and in the same time serious and responsible. He’s got great relationships with people, he has the ability to listen, he’s good at guessing people’s emotions. He’s a mature politician nowadays.

What helped him grow up?

– Probably the double failure in elections two years go. But also – which is very important! – his children growing up. When your children are becoming mature adults, it helps the men who have always been peter pans grow up. It teaches responsibility, good communication, learning from one another.

Lech Kaczyński also has a daughter.

– They must have had really bad relations when she was a young child. Because, really, her life choices can’t be seen a sequence of accidental cases. In such a traditional family, divorce ending a short marriage is already a break of the order. A divorce that was so unpleasant, that involved such tension, breaks it even further. And her next partner turns out to be coming from SLD, a post-communist social-democratic party. When there are millions of single guys in this country she chooses someone related to the party most hated by her father – it’s apparent the daughter has given her father a clear answer.

You suggest that Marta Kaczyńska got involved with a leftist activist maliciously? To infuriate her father?

– That might be unconscious. However if they were in good, warm relations, believe me, a chance for her making such choice would have been much slimmer.

Doesn’t Donald Tusk have conflicts with people? The drop-outs from the Citizens Platform are those who disagree with him. Like Jan Rokita.

– Oh, Rokita – he’s a great example of a child who takes offence with everything. And Tusk – at least from my observations – tries to settle things down with everyone, also with Mr Kaczyński. It’s not a problem for him to say “I’m sorry”. These are new customs in Polish politics.

So far the Poles picture the parliament as a massive sandpit, in which little boys take each other’s sand moulds.

– This will change. Please look, that Citizens Platform created a government with the peasant Polish People’s Party (PSL), which is known for its calm ways, it adjusts itself, doesn’t engage in conflict. We will stop taking offence and sulking abroad, and we will be treated as a normal country again.

You’re talking about a government with PSL. This party is mainly its leader Waldemar Pawlak – in the nineties so immature he was even funny. The media ridiculed him all the time.

– Pawlak has grown up incredibly. Today there is none of that uncertain, coarse politician he was left in him. He spent some time in the political purgatory, worked hard on himslef, learned a lot. Now he’s a mature politician – and his passion to computers is also an important competence in politics – allows him to look, in an organised manner, at the whole structure of the state.

Back the Pawlak seemed very blend compared to the glowing, talkative SLD leader. Where is Aleksander Kwaśniewski (former president) today?

– Oh dear, he’s a sad case. An obvious example of a man, who cannot handle his alcohol addiction, who got caught in the system of denial and illusion. Illusion, because he’s lost the ability to judge the situation properly, he lives in conviction that he’s a great, wonderful person. Denial, because he won’t admit that it’s bad, that he’s got a problem. To the contrary, he repeats his lies making a fool of himself.

Kwaśniewski – another example of a man who didn’t grow up?

– Of course, he is a Peter Pan. He didn’t complete his degree – and leaving a part of your life not settled completely, can determine future behaviours and choices very strongly. He’s playing like a student, he’s happy to go for a party; when they serve alcohol, he’s have a round. He doesn’t feel responsibility.

How come? His political adversaries don’t deny his merits, he did many good things when he was a president.

– Now we’re mixing two different things. Intellectually Kwaśniewski is doing perfectly fine, he’s brainy, he’s splendid in rhetoric, a real statesman. However emotionally – failure, just a little boy.

Don’t the voters prefer a little boy? Somenone like us, imperfect, sometimes weak?

– Somehow Kwaśniewski didn’t help the left win votes in electoral campaign… We like the people whom we can respect, serious people. Our electoral preferences are dependant on our level of education. The higher is our education, the more we support liberal politicians. Uneducated people seek a chief, someone who holds things firmly.

However the populist Andrzej Lepper wasn’t this time voted for the parliament. His party was lost, now it’s falling apart.

– Exactly. We as a society are more eduaced, and populists’ chances are getting slimmer. Lepper is a more complicated case. He was created by Piotr Tymochowicz, image, and political marketing specialist. It’s true, Lepper learned well, he learned all sorts of tricks, he found a political recipe – but his end came when he got exposed. He’s over and he won’t be back.

Same with Giertych? (former Minister of Education, member of controversial League of Polish Families)

– Oh, it’s completely different with him. Now he’s out, but he’s an intelligent guy. He’ll wait, he’ll think, he’ll grow up and he’ll come back. He’s come back more mature, more sensible, and less opinionated. I would say he might show a lot. Just like Pawlak, who returned after years of non-existance, to do something.

So the recipe for a politician is to get wiser and grow up. But are we grown up as a society?

– We’ve been hibernated for over 50 years: the authorities were treating us like babies. We started to grow up in 1989, so a simple calculation shows that we as a society are 18 years old, and we are just entering the adult life. but it’s not exactly like that. On one hand many people have problems with taking responsibility for themselves. They expect the state to give them something. On the other hand the young people are growing up in an express speed. Also thanks to travelling and working abroad. Intensive exchange of thoughts and a melting pot of cultures – this all hastens our growing up process. The so called dog effect adds on top of that.

Dog effect?

Yes, because like a dog we’re following the footsteps left by others, and we won’t commit many mistakes the French or German did. It will take us shorter to gather the knowledge for which they worked years. We’ll just take the crème de la crème.

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If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.

 





Poll: The Kaczynskis are losing support

15 03 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza

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According to the newest CBOS poll, Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s government has the lowest support since its forming. Number of its opponents is record high.

Kaczynski’s predecessors: Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and Marek Belka had never had such bad poll results. Even Leszek Miller [whose government collapsed under corruption scandals], got to such number of opponents after two whole years in power.

Lech Kaczynski’s results also hit record low. The number of citizens satisfied with his presidency is the lowest since election, whereas over half of the people (58%) are dissatisfied with him. Moreover, one third of those who voted for him, now find themselves in the group of dissatisfied.

A decline in support is also reflected in the party poll of 9-11 March. Opposistion Citizens Platform (PO) gained 6 percent and now has the support of 36%, whereas the governing Law and Justice (PiS) are 12% behind with 24%.

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“Tribunal defends local council members and mayors”

14 03 2007

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily, March 14th 2007.
Original author: Ewa Siedlecka

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The Constitutional Tribunal decided yesterday, that the statue punishing the publicly elected local governments members with reclaiming their seats for not having produced a financial statement in time provided, is against The Constitution Of The Republic Of Poland. Before the sentence was given, the prime minister threatened: ‘We have to seriously consider some new model of functioning of the Tribunal.
Judges Ewa Łętowska (left) and Teresa LiszczDoes this sentence mean they will keep their seats? It is not clear. Probably, however, administrative courts that will deal with local officials’ appeals to Palatines’ decisions regarding taking their mandates away, will take this sentence into account. The sentence affects 765 people of local governments, including the mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of opposition Citizens Platform Party (PO).

The Tribunal started to give out its verdict at 3 p.m., althouth the tension was rising from the morning. In a radio interview the prime-minister suggested that Gronkiewicz-Waltz is in league with the Tribunal, because in her latter to the Palatine of Masovia ‘she revealed that she knows what legal arguments the Tribunal will take into account‘.

He repeated that suggestion just before the verdict: ‘If the reasoning presented in the letter to the Palatine of Masovia was applied, it would mean that Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is informed about about Tribunal sentences in advance. That would be another argument for a serious discussion about a new form for the Tribunal’.

The prime-minister also said that he hopes ‘the Tribunal will not use any circus tricks’. However the verdict was not pleasing for him.

Tribunal has decided that it is against The Constitution to punish the members of local councils and mayors with a loss of seat, not only in case when they did not produce their financial statements in time, but also when they did not produce them at all.

‘The sanction of the loss of mandate, applied only to achieve the financial transparency of the people in power is permissible. However applying it to those, who were slightly late with their financial reports, is not necessary to achieve that aim. And it breaches the constitutional rule of proportionality’ – said judge Ewa Łętowska in the name of the Tribunal.

She also pointed out to the unclear procedure of taking away the mandates: – ‘If you use such a drastic sanction, procedures should be very precise’.

The Tribunal has also decided that the obligation of producing financial report of the official’s spouse is unconstitutional. This was the ground, for Palatine of Masovia’s decision to take away Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s seat.

Here, as The Tribunal said in its verdict, the rule of proportionality was also breached. As well as the rule of decent legislation, as the act does not clearly say when is the deadline for producing spouses’ financial report.

The verdict takes effect with the day of being published in The Journal of Laws. However it does not mean that administrative courts or local governments can ignore it until then.

‘As far as local governments are concerned it would have been best if they postponed any decisions in these matters until the verdict comes into effect’ – Ewa Łętowka told journalists after the trial.

‘The Courts however will do as they think is right. However from the moment of this verdict, this act is no longer under the supposition of constitutionality’.

What does that mean? The courts have to obey The Constitution, and therefore they can deny applying the statue which is colliding with it, although the statue was in force in the moment of local elections.

Five judges of the Tribunal have taken part in the trial, two of which – Teresa Liszcz and Zbigniew Cieślak – were chosen for this office by Sejm three months ago with the votes of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS). None of the judges has issued votum separatum.

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Editorial comment of Gazeta Wyborcza.
Author: Jarosław Kurski

This was not the first time, when prime-minister makes disdainful remarks on the Tribunal. We remember his words ‘Disgusting, cowardly opportunists’, ‘unimpressive group of wisemen’, ‘lie-elites‘ of plotters who settle their own interests.
This time prime-minister talked about ‘circus tricks’. He insinuated that the Tribunal is plotting together with Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. He threatened that ‘we need to seriously think about a new form for the the Tribunal’. It all happened an hour before the sentence. You cannot describe prime-minister’s words different, than as an attempt to pressurise an independent constitutional court. Not a first attempt. Prime-mister is making us used to his breachings of legal culture of the state. We cannot agree to that.
Yesterdays sentence is the triumph of the rule of law. If it was up to PiS, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz would have stopped being mayor long ago.
Thankfully the prime-minister does not have enough power to execute his threat and “reforem” the Tribunal. The Tribunal is protected by The Consitution. No one has won with it, and lets hope it stays that way.

Professor Andrzej Zoll, former Ombudsman, comments for Gazeta Wyborcza:
Mr prime-minister has been devaluing the Tribunal for a very long time. Such pressure, threatening is, using his words, anti-Polish. I think that anywhere in Europe such remark would have cost a prime-minister his job. I do not expect such a reaction in Poland.
I know that the Tribunal will not surrender to pressure. independent Tribunal is the only hope, that we will not end up as a totalitarian state.

Professor Marek Safjan, former Chairman of the Constutional Tribunal, comments for Gazeta Wyborcza:
Well, I cannot say I am surprised with these remarks, as they match the tone which we have heard from the prime-minister from a long time. You can see some elements of pressurising the Tribunal in it. I am convinced however, that the judges are immune to that, like thay have been until now.
The fact that the sentence was in accordance with a certain, possible to be foreseen, legal argumentation, means only as much as the actions of the Tribunal are transparent. That there are no ‘circus tricks’ only clear, obvious and predictable argumentation.
However the threat of ‘reshaping the construction of the Tribunal’ it is really dangerous, as a reaction to the fact that Tribunal’s sentences are not in accordance with the wishes of executive power. This is a hit in the basics of the rule of law.

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