First democratically-elected PM passes away

Poland’s first democratically-elected PM Jan Olszewski passed away on Thursday evening in Warsaw.

The sad news was reported by Poland’s public broadcaster TVP.

Mr Olszewski was hospitalised in Warsaw couple of days before his death. After losing consciousness he did not recover despite attempts to resuscitate him. In his youth, Mr Olszewski was a member of the Grey Ranks (“Szare Szeregi”) paramilitary Polish Scouting Association and fought in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

During the communist era, he defended opposition activists in court, who were often arrested on trumped-up charges. He became Poland’s first democratically elected PM in 1991 and served until June 1992. In the years 2006-2010, he served the late Polish President Lech Kaczyński as a presidential aide.

He was 88-years-old.

Politicians’ condolences

“Jan Olszewski was a great statesman who served Poland to the very end. He was always ready to offer his kindness, counsel and exceptional experience,” Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told the Polish Press Agency.

“Jan Olszewski was impeccably honest, true to his convictions and all the same very courageous. He proved his steadfastness innumerable times – first during WWII, later during the Polish communist era and in Poland after 1989. The Republic of Poland suffered a terrible loss. Glory to his memory,” tweeted Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki.

“With grief, I received the news of the defender of anti-communist oppositionists and proponent of Poland’s accession to the NATO PM Jan Olszewski’s passing. Words of commiseration to his close ones,” tweeted the US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher.

For his part, the European Commission head Donald Tusk tweeted “sad news from Warsaw has reached us. Jan Olszewski has passed away. He was a brave defence lawyer in political lawsuits, a member of the Solidarity [“Solidarność” - ed.] movement, and good man. May he rest in peace.”

PM Office head Michał Dworczyk told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that “late former PM Jan Olszewski’s funeral will have a state format ceremonial.”