Poland’s Parliament Speaker Resigns in ‘Air Kuchcinski’ Private Flights Scandal
Poland’s Sejm Marshal, i.e. Parliament Speaker, Marek Kuchcinski, has announced his resignation after revelations that he and his family members have been using extensively government planes and helicopters for private purposes.
Kuchcinski, whose post as Parliament Speaker is the second most important in Poland according to the country’s constitution, is part of the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) of former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
“I plan to submit my resignation tomorrow,” Kuchcinski told a news conference on Thursday, as cited by TVN24.
Three days ago, he already apologized for using a government Gulfstream jet for a total of 23 flights with his family.
Law and Justice Party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski was also present at the press conference, declaring that Kuchcinski’s decision to step down as Sejm Marshal was part of the formation’s high standards for public life.
The ‘Air Kuchcinski’ scandal, as it has become known, has embarrassed the PiS party ahead of general elections in October 2019, although public opinion polls indicate that it is set for another election win.
According to Polish political analysts, Poland’s ruling party had been hoping that the scandal might die off during the summer holidays in August.
However, it was forced to take more decisive steps after new media reports exposed some discrepancies in Kuchcinski’s earlier explanations.
Documents leaked by local media and the opposition showed that Kuchcinski had been using government planes and military helicopters and aircraft dozens of times over the past few years, with most of the flights being from Poland’s capital Warsaw to his hometown of Rzeszow located about 280 kilometers to the south.
As Kuchcinski apologized for the private flights on government aircraft earlier this week, he insisted no laws had been broken.
He confessed that in one case his wife used a government plane without him, and promised to give EUR 6,500 to a military fund to compensate the state for the expenses of that particular flight.
Poland’s Sejm is going to elect a new Marshal on Friday after Kuchcinski’s official resignation, Deputy Marshal Ryszard Terlecki from the PiS party announced.
(Banner image: Marek Kuchcinski’s website)