* Kijowski acknowledges taking money from donations
* Opposition lawmakers continue parliamentary protests
* Ruling party calls on opposition to cut ties with Kijowski
By Lidia Kelly
WARSAW, Jan 5 The leader of Poland's
anti-government protest movement acknowledged on Thursday taking
money from the organisation, dealing a blow to the
parliamentary opposition, but he said the funds were for
contract work he had carried out.
The ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party urged
the opposition to cut ties with Mateusz Kijowski, leader of the
Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD). Opposition members
also demanded a swift explanation.
Polish daily Rzeczpospolita and the news portal Onet.pl
reported that Kijowski had channelled more than 90,000 zlotys
($22,000) from donations to KOD to his private account.
The news came in the third week of a sit-in protest in
parliament by opposition lawmakers who on Dec. 15 blocked the
plenary hall podium over proposals by PiS to curb media access
After the December political standoff, Poland's largest in
recent years, the European Union, concerned about what it called
a continued "systemic threat to the rule of law", gave Warsaw
two months to resolve the crisis.
Kijowski, who has organised dozens of protests over the past
year against the government, said the funds were transferred for
earlier agreed contract work for KOD.
"The case is highly unfortunate," Kijowski told reporters.
PiS used the situation to call on the opposition to
disassociate itself from Kijowski, while some opposition leaders
called for a quick and transparent explanation.
"I hope that Mateusz Kijowski ... will in an open,
transparent manner answer questions and explain those
difficult...issues," Grzegorz Schetyna, the leader of Poland's
largest opposition group, the Civil Platform (PO), told
Lawmakers, many of whom are close to Kijowski, have been
taking turns to sit in parliament during its holiday recess,
vowing to continue the protest until PiS repeats its vote on the
2017 budget, which on Dec. 15 had to take place in an auxiliary
chamber because of the blockade in the main hall.
The lower house of parliament returns to session on Jan. 11.
($1 = 4.1175 zlotys)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by Ralph Boulton)