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Walesa takes tea with former communist leader

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 14.07.2012 08:00
Solidarity legend Lech Walesa has made a private visit to the house of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the former communist leader who once tried to crush the famed trade union.

photo - blip.pl

News of the meeting was revealed by Walesa himself, who uploaded a picture of the visit on his personal blog.

“Once we stood on opposite sides, but now we have a free Poland and I have closed that chapter,” he told Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, when quizzed about the encounter.

“Because of this, it's worth meeting up and talking from time to time,” he said, noting that he has already invited the general back to his home in Gdansk.

General Jaruzelski declared a state of martial law at the peak of the Solidarity surge in December 1981.

Some 10,000 Poles were arrested and a hundred killed during the 20-month long crackdown, with Polish tanks entering the streets on 13 December 1981.

Eight years later, Solidarity activists, led by Walesa, took part in the so-called Round Table Talks with the communist leadership, paving the way for a democratic Poland.

Walesa, who was elected president in 1990, was in Warsaw this week visiting his former friend and presidential aide Mieczyslaw Wachowski.

Recalling an invitation made by General Jaruzelski, he decided to take the general up on his suggestion.

Jaruzuzelski, who turned 89 this month, was diagnosed with lymphoma last year.

In January 2012, a Polish court found that the imposition of martial law in 1981 was illegal. Former Minister of the Interior Czeslaw Kiszczak was given a two year suspended sentence, but Jaruzelski himself was excused from the trial prior to sentencing, on account of his poor health. Former First Secretary of the Party Stanislaw Kania was acquitted. (nh)

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