WARSAW, Feb 10 — Poles gave Solidarity hero Lech Walesa 1,000 roses yesterday in a fragrant show of support as the Nobel laureate fought off fresh allegations he had collaborated with the communist secret police in the early 1970s.
Supporters presented Walesa with the bed of red and white roses arranged to symbolise a Polish flag in the lobby of the European Solidarity Center in the Baltic port city of Gdansk where the former Polish president has his office.
“Dear Mr. President, here are roses of support, respect, friendship and solidarity with you (...) Always united behind you, for us you’re a hero!” said a note attached to the flowers signed “We the People”.
All smiles, the moustachioed 73-year-old Walesa told reporters he was pleased that “there are still people who remember the past.”
The group used the internet to organise the tribute, local media reported.
Several members of the group had worked with Walesa at the Gdansk Shipyard where as an electrician became the leader of the anti-communist Solidarity movement during the 1980s.
He then went on to play a key role in negotiating a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989.
Walesa has for decades flatly denied stubborn allegations he collaborated with the communist secret police in the early 1970s as an agent code-named “Bolek”.
Last week, Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi and communist eras, said fresh handwriting analysis proved there was “no longer any doubt” that Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement as well as receipts for payment from the secret police.
But a special vetting court ruled in 2000 that there was no basis to suspicions that Walesa had been a paid agent of the communist regime.
Poles in general have mixed feelings about Walesa.
His boldness in standing up to the communist regime is still widely respected, but the combative and divisive tone of his later presidency earned him scorn in many quarters. — AFP