A Polish Army daily confirmed today reports of recent Soviet military activity in a southeast corner of Poland, but criticized the Solidarity trade union for initially misreporting the extent of Soviet action.
Zolnierz Wolnosci said that "a few troops of Russian communication Army units" were active in the southeast but the paper described these activities as "routine training exercises" that take place every year.
Since the conclusion last month of extended Warsaw Pact military maneuvers in and around Poland, during which time Soviet forces were said to have left sophisticated communication facilities in Poland possibly to facilitate a later intervention, there has been no public report of further major Soviet military activity.
Last week, however, in what amounted to a complaint from people in the southeast town of Jaroslaw, the daily Solidarity newsletter Wiadomosci Dnia in Warsaw printed a report that Soviet paratroops had landed on the night of April 22 near Jaroslaw and were making life difficult for farmers in the area by clearing fields and building observation towers.
Solidarity raised its own doubts about that report the next day, noting that the account had not been confirmed after arriving in telex form from Solidarity representatives in Jaroslaw.
The episode seemed to highlight the often small frictions that emerge frequently now between communist authorities and trade union staffers as a new balance of power and understanding is worked out. It also pointed to some of the difficulties Solidarity itself is having in responsibly managing its newly won freedoms.
Today's media skirmishing coincided with the announcement that government and union negotiators had reached agreement on important details ensuring Solidarity regular radio and television broadcasting time. Access to Polish media has been among the key demands of the workers' movement during nine months of social upheaval here.
It was also agreed that the government would invite Solidarity to participate in discussion programs on important social and economic topics, that Solidarity would have the right to respond immediately to government criticism on radio and television, and that the official news shows would report Solidarity's resolutions and declarations.
In a further indication that Poland is gradually moving toward institutionalizing recent promises of fundamental reform, the Sejm, or legislature, today approved a bill allowing individual farmers to register a trade union -- a right finally promised by the government last month following weeks of demands and demonstrations.
There was none of the sense today of crisis that marked other meetings of the Sejm since the uprisings last summer. And yet, as deputies who were once regarded merely as members of a rubber-stamp body, rose to address critical questions to members of the government about such grievances as soap shortages, misallocations of concrete or the independence of court judges -- and did so before television cameras -- it was a stunning reminder of how much Polish political life has been transformed.