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Commission investigating Russian and Belarusian influence in Poland begins its work

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A special commission tasked with investigating Russian and Belarusian influence in Poland was beginning its work on Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced.

At a news conference in Warsaw, Tusk and other officials described the commission as a non-partisan body of experts whose aim is to protect national security. Its work begins at a time of security concerns across the region as Russia’s war against Ukraine is in its third year.

Tusk issued an order in May to establish a commission to investigate Russian and Belarusian influence in the years 2004-2024. He and other Polish officials say the country is facing intensified hybrid attacks from Russia and its neighbor and ally Belarus that include alleged acts of sabotage, cyberattacks and growing pressure along the Poland-Belarus border.

The number of attempted border crossings from Belarus into European Union member Poland has shot up in recent months to almost 400 a day — from only a handful a day earlier this year, Polish officials say. Also, Poland’s border guards have described increasingly aggressive behavior by some migrants on the Belarus side of the border, who in some cases attacked them with rocks or other objects.

Tomasz Siemoniak, who is the interior minister and the head of the secret services, said there are “no doubts” that the situation at the border is the work of Russia and Belarus, and that “explaining all the cases from the last 20 years where traces of Russian or Belarusian activity are visible is very important.”

The commission will include 12 members and be headed by the head of the Military Counterintelligence Service, Gen. Jarosław Stróżyk. Tusk noted that Stróżyk has served as a diplomat, military commander and deputy head of NATO intelligence, among other roles.

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