WARSAW, NOV. 30 -- Stanislaw Tyminski, the mysterious emigre businessman who shocked Poland by pushing his way into the second round of the presidential election, made seven trips to Libya on his way to Poland during the 1980s, according to the Polish Interior Ministry. He also employs several former Communist secret police agents on his campaign staff, Interior Minister Krzysztof Kozlowski said today.
Passport photocopies and other material allegedly linking Tyminski to the former Communist regime surfaced in the Polish press earlier this week. Kozlowski said computerized immigration records show that Tyminski visited Libya seven times, a pattern of movement Kozlowski described as "strange."
Kozlowski also confirmed that Tyminski's small campaign staff includes several former members of the SB, Communist Poland's secret police. One of those campaign staffers was responsible for the arrest of dozens of clandestine Radio Solidarity operators and other opposition workers during the 1980s, according to Solidarity activist Adam Borowski and several colleagues who said they had been turned in to police by the same Tyminski aide.
Earlier this week, Tyminski denounced questions about the Libya and secret police allegations as "lies, lies, lies." His campaign staff has denied the presence of former secret police operatives.
At the same press conference, Tyminski startled listeners by defending the imposition of martial law by Communist President Wojciech Jaruzelski in 1981, saying that Poland had faced "unusual danger from within." Tyminski has refused to speak with Polish or foreign journalists since then and has kept his campaign schedule largely secret.
Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa, who finished first in the presidential election's first round last Sunday but failed to win a majority, accused Tyminski on Thursday of being a front man for those who want to lead a Communist counterrevolution, and said a Tyminski victory in the Dec. 9 runoff would lead to "something like a civil war."
But Walesa has begun to pick up voters who chose Solidarity Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round, according to a government opinion survey released today. The survey shows that Walesa has picked up 18 points since Sunday's vote, and now has 58 percent to Tyminski's 30 percent, with the remaining 12 percent undecided.
"Thank God," Walesa reportedly said when told of the poll results.
In another boost to Walesa's campaign, the Polish Catholic Church threw its full support behind Walesa today. Catholic bishops told voters the election would be the "crowning act" of the anti-Communist revolution led by Solidarity. The bishops' statement called for a big turnout, saying, "Our collective participation in electing the president of our state is a moral duty."
Tyminski's second-place finish Sunday, ahead of Mazowiecki, threw Poland's new democracy into a political crisis and prompted soul-searching and recriminations within the Walesa and Mazowiecki camps over the bitter campaign they waged against each other. Many observers view the 23 percent vote for Tyminski as a serious potential threat to Poland's rigorous free-market reforms.
About 80 percent of Poles say they are unhappy with the hardships imposed by the country's economic shift. Walesa said Thursday that he was "terrified" by the extent of dissatisfaction indicated by Tyminski's strong showing.
With little more than a week until the election, the Polish-born Tyminski, leader of the small, right-wing Libertarian Party of Canada, remains a shadowy figure. He was a virtual unknown before arriving in Poland last month to run for president.
Press reports have questioned the size of the fortune he claims to have amassed in Canada and the Peruvian Amazon in his 21 rags-to-riches years away from Poland. He is under investigation by a congressional committee in Peru for questionable cable television dealings there.
In his self-published book, "Sacred Dogs," according to excerpts published today by the Associated Press, Tyminski devotes a chapter to arguing that Poland should acquire 100 medium-range nuclear warheads "to prevent aggressive appetites and to secure our sovereignty."