While Lech Walesa savored his presidential election victory with a visit to his old workplace in the Gdansk shipyards, Polish prosecutors announced Monday that Walesa’s opponent, Stanislaw Tyminski, will be barred from leaving the country while an investigation continues into charges that he slandered the government.
Tyminski, a 42-year-old who holds citizenship in Canada, Peru and Poland, could not be reached Monday, and his campaign offices were closed.
A slander case was launched against Tyminski after he charged that Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki had committed treason by initiating an economic reform plan that, Tyminski said, had “created chaos” in Poland.
Tyminski was ordered last Friday to appear for questioning before a local prosecutor in Zakopane, in southern Poland, where Tyminski first made his charge and which he repeated often in his campaign for president.
Some observers doubted whether a serious prosecution would proceed over what amounted to election campaign rhetoric. But Tyminski has angered many Poles with his repeated assertions that he possessed “damaging” information against both Mazowiecki and Walesa, none of which he has ever revealed.
Walesa, meanwhile, received the congratulations of President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbechev, both of whom wished Walesa success.
According to White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater, Bush congratulated Walesa “on his leadership and courage, which has been displayed over many years. The President assured him that the United States stands by Poland.”
Gorbachev, in a telegram, told Walesa, “History and life prove convincingly the need to develop cooperation and interaction between our states and peoples.”
At a triumphal visit to the shipyards, Walesa told the workers that he would always remember when he, too, wore coveralls.
“I am going to return here often, and I am going to do everything for you to live better,” he said. “I know where I have this white shirt from.”
Official tallies in Sunday’s runoff election gave Walesa 74.25% of the vote to Tyminski’s 25.75%, capping an often bitter campaign.
Until Tyminski’s surprise second-place finish in the first round of voting last month, the campaign’s deepest animosities grew out of the contest between Walesa and Mazowiecki, both veterans of the trade union Solidarity.
The resulting split between Solidarity’s liberal and conservative wings, allied respectively with Mazowiecki and Walesa, is likely to become a permanent feature of Polish politics.
Adam Michnik, a leading liberal spokesman and editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, offered an olive branch to Walesa in a front-page commentary Monday but also promised a vigilant opposition.
“Now only one thing is important: The president of the Polish Republic was elected democratically in popular elections,” Michnik wrote. “Now we will be loyal critics or proponents of the president’s policies.”
He also warned that the campaign revealed a Poland filled with “intellectual chaos, xenophobia and aggressive populism, yearning for a leader with a strong hand.”
“The new president has the great duty to remove these pathologies,” he added. “If he does it, he will find allies among us.”
Walesa plans to travel today to Czestochowa to make a pilgrimage to the church of the Black Madonna, Poland’s holiest shrine.
Poland’s President-elect Lech Walesa will be sworn in to a five-year term around Dec. 21, barring challenges to the vote. The Solidarity union leader is under pressure to quickly chart policies that will continue Poland’s course toward a market economy. He has promised to pick a prime minister this week. Solidarity officials, meanwhile, are preparing for spring parliamentary elections, when the union may form a political wing.