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A Murder in Gdańsk

The assassination of Gdańsk Mayor Paweł Adamowicz at a fundraising event for Poland's most beloved charity culminates years of fear-mongering about the country's opposition and judiciary by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. And now the PiS has chosen the wrong scapegoat for Adamowicz's murder.

WARSAW – The murder of Gdańsk Mayor Paweł Adamowicz has sent Poland into a tailspin. The nature of the crime speaks to the febrile state of Polish politics under the rule of Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Adamowicz was everything that the PiS is not. Though conservative, he led the local gay pride parade and symbolically bestowed the keys to the city on Gdańsk’s women to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in Poland. He, along with a dozen other mayors, invited refugees to their cities, offering jobs and support – an offer the central government rejected. When my organization invited the leftist Slovene philosopher Slavoj Žižek to Gdańsk in 2009, Adamowicz immediately invited him to dinner.

The timing and setting of the crime are telling. The assailant attacked Adamowicz during the finale of an annual fundraiser organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. Now in its 27th year, the event has been crucial to fundraising efforts for the modernization of Polish hospitals and is the country’s most trusted public entity.

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