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In an idle moment, I flicked open my Polish news site at http://www.thenews.pl/. Here's a sampling of today's news in my second home. It captured my attention for a few reasons: the persistence of the past in the Polish consciousness; the economic state of Poland; and parallels to preoccupations in Australian news.

WHEN DOES THE PAST END? (and should it?)

Human Rights court “not competent” to give 1940 Katyń Massacre ruling

In 1940, 20000 Polish officers, police and intellectuals who were prisoners of war were murdered at Katyń by the Russians, with Stalin's approval. There are claims that the soviet investigation carried out between 1990 and 2004 was inadequate, but the European Court of Human Rights can't assess the investigation because the European Convention of Human Rights came into being after the investigation began.

1813 Battle of the Nations Commemorated

There were 15000 Poles in Napoleon's army when he was defeated by Russian, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish forces and exiled to Elba, ending Polish hopes for independence. Poland had been wiped from the map in the late 18th century when it was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria, but in 1807 Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw from the divided lands. Marshal Jozef Poniatowski died in the battle and remains “a model of Polish honour.”

Prosecutors drop Red Army rape statue case

Prosecutors in Gdansk have dropped investigation into the illegal public placement of a statue of a Russian soldier raping a pregnant woman. The initial charge was “public incitement to hatred on the basis of nationality”: the artist is now facing a fine for an “indecent prank.” The Russian ambassador expressed outrage, on the grounds that it “insulted the memories of 600 000 Russian soldiers who fell in the struggle for the freedom and independence of Poland”. However, historians estimate that 100 000 Polish women were in fact raped by soviet soldiers between 1944 and 1947, during the liberation of Poland.


Komorowski begins South Korea, Mongolia visit

The purpose of the visit is to develop business contacts with South Korea and to learn from the South Korean experience, specifically how to avoid the “average wealth” trap and speed up Poland's economic development.

Apartment prices continue to fall in Poland

A survey covering 18 cities has noted a drop in apartment prices, ranging from 6.1% to 2.1%.


What Poles leave behind in Afghanistan

Polish troops are pulling out of Afghanistan within a year. They have handed over equipment from the Ghazni military base to NGOs, as one of their last acts of humanitarian aid.

Poles' literacy and numeracy below OECD average

A 24-nation study of 16-65 year olds by the OECD finds that Poles perform below average in literacy and numeracy tests, though the younger generation is performing better.

Animal rights group wants Mufti punished for illegal halal slaughter

Chief Mufti, Tomasz Miskiewicz, killed a lamb without prior stunning as part of the ritual of the Fast of the Sacrifice. He claims that he was “maintaining the culture and heritage of the Polish Tatars and Muslims”. Slaughter without prior stunning has been illegal since 1st January, 2013, regardless of religious customs.

Apologies for the crazy fontage. For some reason I can't remove bold, or the enlarged heading.