Poland's opposition leader and former prime minister, Donald Tusk, look on in parliament in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, May 26, 2023. Poland's controversial commission for examining Russian influences in Poland, that is seen as targeting the opposition ahead of Oct.15 parliamentary elections will not be formed before that vote, a prominent member of the ruling party said Friday, Aug, 18. The commission is seen as intended to diminish the popularity of main opposition leader Donald Tusk ahead of the elections in which the ruling conservative party is seeking an unprecedented third term. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

Poland confirms members of divisive commission which critics say targets opposition

WARSAW, Poland –

Poland’s lawmakers on Wednesday confirmed candidates for the controversial commission for examining Russian influence in the country which is believed to be targeting the opposition and its popular leader, Donald Tusk, ahead of the Oct. 15 parliamentary elections.

The commission was established by a law proposed by the governing nationalist Law and Justice party to check whether between 2007 and 2022 politicians have made decisions under Russia’s influence that could threaten Poland’s security.

All nine candidates were named by Law and Justice. The opposition did not participate in the process, nor in the vote in the lower house. In separate votes, the candidates were confirmed by the ruling party lawmakers, who control a narrow majority in the house.

In the coming elections, Law and Justice, which has governed since 2015, will seek an unprecedented third term of power while facing-off with Tusk and his Civic Coalition of centrist opposition parties.

Critics say the commission would have unconstitutional powers, including the capacity to exclude officials from public life for a decade. It was not immediately clear where it would hold its first session.

The EU launched legal action against member country Poland in June over the contentious law establishing the commission and has warned of further steps if the body is activated. It was also criticized by the United States.

The ruling party has accused Tusk of having been too friendly toward Russia and President Vladimir Putin as prime minister between 2007 and 2014, and making gas deals favorable to Moscow before he went to Brussels to be the president of the European Council between 2014 and 2019.

Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński and Tusk are longtime political rivals.