21:15 GMT +316 February 2019
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    Protesters attend an anti-government demonstration, in Warsaw, Poland

    Polish Opposition Launches Petition to Investigate Parliament Speaker

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    Polish opposition is gathering signatures to carry out an investigation into actions by parliamentary speaker Marek Kuchcinski during Friday's adjourned parliamentary session which has led to a full-blown political standoff.

    WARSAW (Sputnik) — On Friday, opposition Civic Platform party member Michal Szczerba was asked to leave the parliament session after criticizing Kuchcinski's earlier decision to limit media presence in the Polish parliament. Protests from other lawmakers prompted the speaker, who is a member of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, to adjourn the session and reconvene in a different room without opposition members before passing a bill on amendments to the government budget.

    "Early on December 17, one of the most important laws, our country's budget, was passed in violation of the Sejm statute and outside the assembly hall. Polish democracy has never seen anything like this. Sejm speaker Marek Kuchcinski violated the very rules he was tasked with safeguarding. In spite of Sejm rules, he kept a number of lawmakers out of the assembly hall and failed to ensure that a proper vote on the amendments be held. We will never know who voted and how they voted, as security… unlawfully prevented reporters from covering the session," the petition, published by the Akcja Demokracja group, reads.

    The petition calls on Warsaw's Regional Prosecutor Pawel Wilkoszewski to investigate Kuchcinski over potentially breaching his powers. Over 11,000 signatures have been gathered so far, with less than 9,000 to go before the prosecutor has to consider it.

    Civic Platform, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD) and the Nowoczesna party have been rallying supporters in Warsaw and other cities since late Friday. Opposition lawmakers are also continuing their sit-in inside the parliament building. The government condemned the protests while PiS rejected any breaches to parliament rules, stating that all lawmakers had been told via text messages that the session was moved. Friday's vote also gathered enough members of parliament to meet the constitutional quorum, according to the party.

    The new media restrictions, which prompted the standoff, allow only a limited number of TV stations in Poland to record parliamentary sessions starting from next year. A number of Polish news organizations responded by boycotting any coverage of parliamentary activities on Friday.


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    protests, Marek Kuchinski, Warsaw, Poland