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How ‘Agent Bolek’ (Lech Walesa) Made the Velvet Revolution in Poland

How many old 'Boleks' are there among ruling elites of the 'new European nations'?


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


The author is editor of the popular Russian online magazine


Poland is experiencing hard times. The home of a former Interior Minister of the Polish People’s Republic, general Czeslaw Kiszczak, rendered up the file of a communist agent named ‘Bolek’. ‘Bolek’ won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, as head of the Solidarity trade union, who became the first president of free Poland, Lech Walesa, an electrician from the city of Gdansk. 

Friends of the former leader of the first Eastern-European ‘color revolution’ are sighing: ‘Why didn’t he just come out and tell people the truth’? 

More hard-nosed people are wondering if a general could bring home and stash away the police file of the leader of the revolution during all these post-socialist years, how many ‘Boleks’ are there among today’s Polish elite?  

Generally speaking, Poles are upset that anyone would conspire against the ‘First Liberated Nation’ legend.  The tale of brave crowds bringing down the huge socialist camp from inside is one of the cornerstones of modern Polish political ideology. And the pivot of this heroic myth was and is ‘the Great Electrician’ who stood up and carried the day.  But behind this legend is the prosaic face of historical reality, where all bloodless revolutions are made, not by mighty electricians, but by those who stand behind them.

By the way, the “Bolek” scandal reveals the visceral hatred of East-European elites towards the current Russian president. Assuming Polish pessimists are right and ‘there are still many Boleks’, this would imply that among these elites are former informers concealing their past, as opposed to the Russian President who, having been a simple KGB officer, doesn’t have a past to conceal.

We feel their pain.


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