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Sexual harassment allegations plague Poland's deputy PM

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dpa German Press Agency
Published: Monday December 4, 2006

Warsaw- Andrzej Lepper, Poland's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, on Monday denied a newspaper report alleging he and another member of his populist Samoobrona (Self Defence) farmers' party had demanded sexual favours from a woman in exchange for a job in the party. The woman, identified only as Aneta K., told Poland's liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily that in 2001 she was recruited by Samoobrona Member of Parliament Stanislaw Lyzwinski to work in his constituency office on condition she be prepared to grant sexual favours.

Aneta K., alleges she was given the job after having sex with Lepper. At the time, he was a member of parliament and did not hold a government post. She was required to continue performing sexual favours to keep her job, she claims.

She said she agreed to do so because she was an unemployed single mother desperately seeking a job to support her family.

Lepper on Monday flatly denied the allegations, saying the woman in question had not been employed by his party.

In an interview with TVN24 news channel, he appeared to know details of the woman's family background and even questioned her moral integrity as an unmarried mother of three children.

Several other women quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza also alleged Lyzwinski solicited sexual favours from them in exchange for employment in Samoobrona party structures.

Following Monday consultations with Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland's chief prosecutor Janusz Kaczmarek launched an investigation into the sex abuse allegations against Lepper and Lyzwinski, government spokesman Jan Dziedziczak confirmed.

Meanwhile, opposition politicians called for Lepper's immediate dismissal from his ministerial posts.

Another Samoobrona member, serving as a member of the European Parliament, recently faced allegations of raping a sex worker in Belgium.

At the time, Lepper was harshly criticised for his light-hearted reaction to the allegations. "How can you rape a prostitute?," he asked reporters as he chuckled.

The populist Samoobrona party controls 47 seats in Poland's 460 seat parliament. It entered a rocky three-way coalition which guarantees a majority to the right-wing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The government's other junior coalition partner, the 29-seat Catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR), came under fire last week for alleged links to neo-Nazis.

Polish media published videos and photographs appearing to show LPR deputy party leader Wojciech Wierzejski and a party administrative assistant attending a neo-Nazi style party and a concert oranised by the All-Poland Youth - the LPR's youth wing.

Roman Giertych, at once LPR leader Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister has flatly denied any links to either of the events and filed a criminal complaint against the organisers of one of the neo-Nazi parties.

The public propagation of totalitarian ideologies, including communism and fascism, is illegal in Poland.

Giertych is also known as the principal mentor of the All-Poland Youth.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency