Pawel is away this week (probably base jumping or something) so it falls to us ignorant foreigners to round up the news. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1. Jilted at the divorce court
Marriage is a popular institution in modern Poland, more so than many other European nations where spending large sums of money on a white dress and the opportunity to get drunk with relatives you don’t like is a less attractive prospect than it once was. Marriage is so popular in Poland that sometimes Poles can’t find other Poles who aren’t already busy getting married to somebody else. This is where foreigners come in useful. There are approximately 9,000 marriages between Poles and foreign nationals in Poland each year. According to a recent report in Rzeczpospolita, however, a quarter of these may be fraudulent.
For non-European Union nationals looking to acquire a coveted EU-nation passport one of the easiest ways is to marry into one. Sometimes this is done by tricking the prospective bride (or groom) with promises of undying love, but more commonly it’s done by offering a cash incentive. It’s a scam as old as the hills, but it’s a relatively new problem in Poland. Rent-a-brides can earn between 15 and 20 thousand Polish złoty (3,350-4,500 euros) for an afternoon in the registry office. Polish registrars are powerless to prevent the practice since they cannot refuse to marry a couple. Even if they suspect fraud—say, the groom doesn’t know the bride’s name or keeps kissing the wrong woman—they have no powers to intervene. I have no idea if this is actually true, but otherwise the joke doesn’t work so I’m leaving it in.
My darling… do you take MasterCard?
World-weary cynical types might roll their eyes and wonder what the fuss is all about–she gets ready cash, he gets the passport. The major problem with these arrangements is that, very often, the guy swiftly disappears to go and have fun with his passport in some richer EU country without bothering to go through the rigmarole of divorcing the woman first. The woman remains legally married, and therefore cannot marry again.
2. The end of the North-South divide
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltzed onto the stage at the press conference to announce that “We have the dosh required to build some more metro Warszawski!”. They have saved some money by tendering things like the Northern Bridge and if you add that to what they had left in the bottom of the piggy-bank as well as yet more of that EU lolly, it seems there’s a chance work will soon start on “Metro II – The return of the hole diggers”. This will surely bring joy to the hearts of those Warsaw dwellers who currently fall outside of the very narrow North-South line served by the first metro line.
Naturally, there’s not enough money to complete the whole of Metro II so for the time being we’re just concentrating on the central section between Daszynskiego on the good side of town and Wileński in bandit country. This means some considerable differences in elevation (consider how much lower Powiśle station will be versus Rondo ONZ station for example) and also crossing the river. Despite, or perhaps because of these difficulties, they think it will be done by 2013.
My guess is that they’re actually hoping this will be a year earlier because the section they are building is, coincidentally, exactly the part needed to get to the new national stadium being built for the 2012 footie championships.
From my perspective, I wish them well as this is exactly the section of metro I need to be able to drag my lazy pupa all the way from Młociny to Rondo ONZ thus leaving a very small amount of actual exercise type walking required at each end!!
3. The Demjanjuk saga rolls on
John Demjanjuk, the 89-year-old Ukranian-born former US citizen accused of being the notorious SS guard known as Ivan the Terrible, is to be deported to Germany. Possibly. Demjanjuk had been living in the United States for 35 years when he was deported to Israel in 1986 to stand trail for war crimes. Convicted on the evidence of Treblinka extermination camp survivors in 1988 he was sentenced to death, and then released when his conviction was overturned on appeal in 1993. Tried again in the United States a deportation order was issued but not carried out since no country would accept him. In April of this year German authorities announced that Demjanjuk would be tried in Germany as an accessory to 29,000 counts of murder. Demjanjuk, who is not a well man, is less than keen to go.
The 1993 Israeli Supreme Court ruling overturning Demjanjuk’s conviction was principally based on doubts over identification. In their written ruling the judges noted “This was the proper course for judges who cannot examine the heart and mind, but have only what their eyes see and read.” They added “The matter is closed-but not complete, the complete truth is not the prerogative of the human judge.”
↑ Nasza Klasa bullying
– Two eleven-year-olds have been brought before a family court in northern Poland for messing with a fellow pupils’ Nasza Klasa account. The boys are said to have gained access to the account, added “vulgar phrases,” and then changed the password so their victim couldn’t repair the damage. Hey, that’s how I got into Polandian.
↓ Gay elephants
– Ninio the elephant, currently residing at Poznan Zoo, has incurred the wrath of conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party deputy Michal Grzes for not being interested in the lady elephants. “We didn’t pay 37 million zlotys ($11 million) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there,” he quipped. According to the PiS deputy, the animal was removed from Warsaw Zoo because it was interested only in other males and was aggressive towards females, hitting them with its handbag (surely trunk – ed.).