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Walesa Called ‘Traitor’ for Talks Agreement

From Reuters

Dozens of youths shouted “Traitor!” at Solidarity leader Lech Walesa on Sunday over his agreement to start talks next month with Poland’s Communist government.

They shouted “Down with the traitor!” and “No talks with murderers!” as he addressed a rally in the northern city of Gdansk, witnesses said.

Youths also shouted when Walesa said Solidarity should seize the chance to reform Poland at talks due to start on Feb. 6.

Terms for legalizing Solidarity after a seven-year ban are to be discussed at the “round-table” talks as part of a proposed pact between the government and the opposition on overcoming Poland’s social, economic and political crisis.

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The proposal has aroused opposition among some anti-Communist radicals in Solidarity and among other small groups that refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Communist rule in Poland.

About 30 Solidarity radicals from Gdansk, led by Walesa’s former close associate Andrzej Gwiazda, recently accused him of using dictatorial methods to impose his will on the union.

But the disturbance was the first time Walesa has met open criticism at a public rally for agreeing to talk to the authorities.

Witnesses said the youths held banners of an ultra-radical group called Dym (Punch-Up), the Movement for an Alternative Society and the pacifist Freedom and Peace group.

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Walesa told about 3,000 people at the rally that he distrusts the Communist authorities but that Poles must seize the chance--however slight--that the talks might achieve something positive.

“Switch his mike off!” youths shouted as Walesa tried to restore order.

The youths later marched about one mile through the city. They threw stones and firecrackers at riot police before dispersing.


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