Poland: No Comparison 5683-poland-no-comparisonPoland: No Comparison15 January 1999 After the arrest in Great Britain of former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet in October, media in Central and Eastern Europe wondered whether the arrest could have repercussions for communist-era leaders in their own countries. On 18 November, for example, Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy asked Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis whether Mikhail Gorbachev could be detained abroad in connection with possible ties to a violent pro-Soviet coup in Vilnius in 1991. Landsbergis said that, if Interpol could help to organize such questioning, it would be really useful for the court case, which is under way in Vilnius. In Poland, General Wojciech Jaruzelski was asked to compare his situation with Pinochet's. In 1996, a Polish parliamentary committee controlled by ex-communists ruled that Jaruzelski should not stand trial for imposing martial law in 1981. The interview, excerpted below, was conducted by Polish Television on 25 November.

Jaruzelski: In a moral sense, I regard [the Pinochet] decision to be just. On the other hand, the issue of what the repercussions of this situation will be in Chile is a different question.

Polish Television: Do you feel that a court other than a Chilean one may judge General Pinochet?

Jaruzelski: If this is in accordance with international law, then of course, yes.

Polish Television: General, do you see any analogies between your own situation and the situation of General Pinochet?

Jaruzelski: In Chile there was genocide on a wide scale. There is no comparison with what there was in Poland during martial law. I absolutely do not see such analogies, and all the people who seek them often have as their aim certain political motives and circumstances.

Polish Television: You are not afraid of foreign trips?

Jaruzelski: Absolutely not. And no citizen of any other country was killed in Poland during martial law. And no claims arising for that reason have been raised or are being raised against us.

Translation provided by BBC Monitoring.


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