Poland's interior minister said today that martial-law authorities had sought unsuccessfully to hold secret talks with underground leaders of the suspended independent trade union Solidarity.
In a report to the national assembly on the recent disturbances, Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak said the offer was relayed in April through representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. Solidarity leaders, who have been coordinating the union's opposition to the military government, failed to respond, he said.
Among the Solidarity officials involved, according to the interior minister, were Zbigniew Bujak, Bogdan Lis and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk. The three escaped arrest when martial law was imposed in December and formed "a provisional coordinating commission" for Solidarity.
Meanwhile, Jan Jozef Lipski, the dissident who returned to Poland yesterday from the West to face charges of attempting to overthrow the state by force, was detained at his Warsaw home this morning and later formally arrested. His daughter said that he was in Warsaw's Rakowiecka Prison following interrogation by representatives of the military prosecutor's office.
By making the government initiative public, Kiszczak appeared to be seeking to create an impression of the good will of the martial-law authorities in contrast to the alleged intransigence of the underground. He said that the Solidarity leaders had been offered "secure guarantees" that would have enabled them to return to hiding regardless of the results of the talks.
"The only answer to our proposal was silence or pronouncements indicating a complete lack of realism in judging the situation . . . . Their final reaction was to organize demonstrations and street riots," he said, referring to the nationwide demonstrations on Aug. 31 that marked the second anniversary of the Gdansk agreement, which recognized independent trade unions.
It is not known why the Solidarity leaders apparently ignored the government offer. Union sympathizers, however, said the activists would have run a considerable risk to emerge without any assurance that authorities were prepared to compromise on substantive issues.
Kiszczak said the aim in seeking the talks was "to open a road for them to leave conspiracy and return to normal life." During the past few weeks several dozen people have come out of hiding and have been allowed to go home, but hundreds remain underground.
The interior minister indicated that the Aug. 31 protests were on a wider scale than earlier acknowledged. He said that they had flared in 66 towns, with more "serious" disturbances in 25 towns.
Kiszczak said that an investigation into the use of weapons in the towns of Wroclaw and Lubin had shown that the police were acting in "self-defense." He expressed regret at the deaths of four protestors there, but he blamed Solidarity, which called for the demonstrations.
According to official figures, 5,131 people were detained during the demonstrations, and more than 300 are now serving prison sentences. Another 220 people were interned.
Fresh disturbances broke out last night in Wroclaw, eyewitnesses reported, following a soccer match between the local team and a Soviet squad. After the tied game, groups of youths chanting antigovernment slogans were dispersed by riot police using tear gas and water cannon.
Although minor compared to the Aug. 31 demonstrations, the incident illustrates the government's problem. Kiszczak's speech suggested that the martial-law authorities have no new ideas on how to cope with unrest beyond appeals and threats.
Insisting that Aug. 31 had represented a victory for neither side, Kiszczak said that "dialogue in the interest of our country cannot be conducted with stones, molotov cocktails and crowbars on one side and water cannons, chemical equipment and truncheons on the other." The only sensible solution, he said, was for accord between "all patriotic and realistically thinking forces."
In the government's interpretation, this formula excludes Solidarity's elected leadership. Instead a new body called the Patriotic Movement of National Rebirth has been organized. It includes representatives of the Communist Party, its political allies in parliament, lay Catholics and consumer groups.