New Interior Minister: Poacher turned gamekeeper

President Andrzej Duda officially appointed anti-communist stalwart Mariusz Kamiński as Interior Minister on Wednesday. A former rebel now heads a key ministry responsible for policing.

Mariusz Kamiński replaces Elżbieta Witek, who has been elected as the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament following the resignation of her predecessor, Marek Kuchciński. Mr Kamiński is, however, to continue coordinating the work of the security services for which he has, until now, been responsible in the current government.

From rebel to enforcer

When he was only sixteen, Mariusz Kamiński was incarcerated in a youth detention centre by the communist regime for defiling a Red Army monument. He continued to oppose the communist authorities by participating in Solidarity underground publication efforts and on demonstrations. He studied history at Warsaw University and was active in the Independent Students Union (NZS).

In 1993 he set up the “Republican League”, an association which concentrated on highly visible actions against former communist symbols. The best-remembered of these actions was the annual vigil outside the home of the last communist dictator Wojciech Jaruzelski on the anniversary of the imposition of martial law (December 13).

Mariusz Kamiński was first elected to Parliament in 1997 on the Solidarity Action slate. In 2001 he stood for Law and Justice (PiS). He has regularly been the No.2 candidate on the Warsaw slate just behind party leader Jarosław Kaczyński and has for several years headed the Warsaw chapter of his party.

The interval in his Parliamentary career came when in 2006 he accepted the nomination to head the state Anti-Corruption Agency (CBA) which the PiS administration founded in that year. His tenure at the CBA was controversial for several sting operations against state officials. He was dismissed by the new PM Donald Tusk in 2009.

He faced several court cases over his activities within the CBA. He was convicted once, for a sting operation in which he was found to have abused his powers. He was pardoned by Poland’s President Andrzej Duda who argued that the conviction and the sentence pronounced would have been a deterrent to pursuing politicians for corruption. Immediately on obtaining the pardon he was nominated to be a minister for coordinating Poland’s security services.