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Marek Zmyslowski - Emergency Issue #7

Marek Zmyslowski - Emergency Issue #7
By Marek Zmyslowski • Issue #7 • View online
They protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the post-Soviet regions, and they need our help NOW.
This is an issue very close to my heart. Not only I come from Poland, and my parents and grandparents remember very well how it is to live under an authoritarian regime, but also I have a big debt of gratitude for this organization. When I had to defend my innocence and freedom against corrupt Nigerian police officials (paid by my former business partners who tried to defraud me) Open Dialogue Foundation, alongside Bill Browder and the Heritage Foundation helped me with diplomatic and legal support.
Below is their statement, I ask you kindly to read it, please

The Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), founded in 2010 in Poland, is an international NGO fighting for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the post-Soviet region and, more recently, within the EU, focusing on stopping the rise of authoritarianism and far-right in states like Poland and Hungary.
Due to its activities, ODF’s leadership and activists are under constant attack by the states it opposes, most notably Kazakhstan, Russia, Moldova (until the fall of Vlad Plahotniuc’s regime), and since 2018 Poland. The authorities produce disinformation and trumped-up charges to silence the organization and induce a chilling effect on civil society.
ODF’s President, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, was expelled from the EU by Polish authorities in 2018 following her husband, Bartosz Kramek’s Facebook post, in which he proposed steps for civil disobedience actions that would help topple the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s increasingly authoritarian rule. The trumped-up charges against her were deemed politically motivated and baseless by 5 European states which disregarded the Polish entry ban, with Belgium granting her permanent residence. The charges were finally found groundless by Polish courts in 3 separate rulings.
On June 23rd, 2021, ODF activist and Kozlovska’s husband, Bartosz Kramek, was detained by the Polish security service (ABW) and within days placed under 3-month pre-trial detention on the request of the public prosecutor’s office, long-politicized and fully controlled by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro. The time of this arrest was not random — the Foundation recently filed 20 lawsuits against the party’s leadership & cronies (already scoring wins against public broadcasters TVP & Polish Radio), and was just about to launch its major project, a “Hall of Shame” platform with draft ‘indictments’ against the party leadership, its cronies & even single police officers abusing their power when beating up protesters. The charges against Bartek are the same as those against his wife — that is ODF being a money-laundering scheme and secretly working for foreign interests to destabilize Poland. The authorities openly admit that the charges are based on information received from their Moldovan and Russian (sic!) counterparts.
Nevertheless, the court disregarded the prosecutor’s request for unconditional detention & granted an option of posting bail in the sum of PLN 300.000 ($79.000), with the deadline of July 8th. If the sum is not delivered in full, Bartosz will remain locked up for 3 months (possibly extended) in drastic conditions with actual criminals. Following a public call for support, numerous activists and benefactors have pledged their help to collect the entire sum and free Bartosz. But this will only be a temporary solution, as the prosecutor’s office will not rest until it destroys Bartosz and the Foundation, which is clearly the goal of this latest attempt. A lengthy legal battle will ensue, with likely arrest warrants being next issued for Bartosz’s wife, Lyudmyla, and possibly other ODF activists.
As ODF, despite its accomplishments and notoriety, is a small NGO (currently employing just 6 people full-time), financed through direct donations and by Bartosz and Lyudmyla themselves via their small IT consulting company — now defunct following the government’s actions — we are running out of funds to both run the NGO, as well as cover the significant legal costs of the battle with the regime. We have now started an international advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the situation and collect high-level support for Bartosz and ODF — as was done in Lyudmyla’s situation in 2018 when she received support from statesmen like Emmanuel Macron or Lech Wałęsa as well as dozens of other decision-makers and prominent public figures. We plan to soon publish an appeal to the European Commission co-signed by numerous Members of the European Parliament and an open appeal to Polish authorities. But all these actions require financing. Without significant financial support for ODF, the Law and Justice Party will be triumphant, effectively quashing the most prominent, critical civil society organization, and producing a chilling effect to suppress dissent in Polish society as a whole. The human factor also cannot be ignored — young civic activists might end up behind bars together with hardened criminals — all this in Poland, a state still part of the EU.
We thus plead for your help in this dramatic situation. You can support ODF directly through donations to bank accounts specified here: https://en.odfoundation.eu/contact/, or with direct card payments & instant transfers via the Hall of Shame fundraiser here: https://zrzutka.pl/z/ListyHanby. We thank you in advance for your support, hopefully together we can win and stop the rise of authoritarianism & far-right nationalism in Poland, and next in Europe.
Martin Mycielski, Open Dialogue Foundation
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Marek Zmyslowski

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