Polish presidential candidate vows better ties with Russia

AP News
Posted: Feb 14, 2015 1:36 PM
Polish presidential candidate vows better ties with Russia

OZAROW MAZOWIECKI, Poland (AP) — The presidential candidate for Poland's main left-wing party criticized the antagonistic attitude to Russia by the country's current leadership and said she would be willing to speak directly to President Vladimir Putin.

Magdalena Ogorek told a convention of the Democratic Left Alliance that Poland cannot afford to continue being described as "enemy number one" in the Russian media.

Poland's center-right government, which includes many communist-era dissidents, has been one of Europe's most vocal critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine.

Ogorek said the party, the successor to the Communist party of the Cold War era, condemns Russian aggression in Ukraine but wants Warsaw and Moscow to communicate.

"I would not be afraid to answer messages from Vladimir Putin and I would pick up the receiver to call the president of the Russian federation," Ogorek said. "Russia is and will remain our neighbor."

Ogorek, who turns 36 later this month, faces an uphill battle in her attempt to unseat the popular incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski on election day, May 10. She has the support of only around 5 percent of voters, and critics say her youth and lack of political experience make her an unconvincing candidate for an office usually held by leaders later in their political careers.

She has a doctorate in history, with a specialty in religion, and has worked in public administration. An attempt to win a parliament seat in 2011 failed.

She has been criticized as well for refusing to take questions from the media and engage directly with voters since her candidacy was announced in early January. After her speech Saturday she also refused to take questions from reporters. That has allowed some Poles to give attention to frivolous things, including her striking good looks and the fact that her last name means "cucumber."