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Lech Walesa

Lech Wałęsa (pronounced "Lek va-wen-sa", born September 29, 1943, Popowo[?], Poland), Polish electrician, trade union activist, political leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1983, and President of Poland[?] from 1990 to 1995 (succeeded by Aleksander Kwaśniewski). Recently, he suggested the UN Security Council to support the War on Iraq.

Lech Walesa is believed by many in Poland to have been a paid agent of the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (State Security Service) for more than 10 years during his rise to the top of the Solidarity movement the in Gdansk shipyards. Walesa, under the codename "Bolek", is said to have been recruited to pass information to the SB, and was bumped into the top leadership position within Solidarity by other embedded agents of the SB in an attempt to control the movement. His subsequent break from SB control is attributed to a new arrangement Walesa made with the CIA, then headed by George H. W. Bush.

Prior to the 2000 presidential election, Walesa was cleared to hold political office by a special "vetting court", which held that photocopies of documents pertaining to agent "Bolek", including signed receipts for payments from the SB, were inadmissible. The original documents, if they in fact existed, were likely pulled from SB files and destroyed during Walesa's term as the first president of a newly-democratic Poland, 1990-95. Walesa received less than 1% of the vote in the 2000 election.

Poland, unlike most other former Soviet satellite states[?], never publicly opened the records of the state security apparatus following the disintegration of the Soviet block.

While unproven and hotly contested, this version of Walesa's past commands a large enough following in Poland and abroad to be noted. If true, it also underscores the immense political savvy, however opportunistic, of a man who went from shipyard electrician without a high school degree to the president of his nation and international anti-communist mascot.

See also : Solidarity.

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