Man linked to Polish and EU politicians to stand trial in Poland accused of Russian espionage

A man with alleged links to members of the Polish and European parliaments will face trial in Poland accused of spying for Russia. The Polish national, who can be named only Janusz N. under Polish privacy law, has already been in detention since his arrest in 2021 and faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

“Janusz N. established contact with Polish and foreign politicians, including those working in the European Parliament, and engaged them in activities of propaganda, disinformation and political provocation, at the behest of persons acting on behalf of Russian intelligence,” said Polish prosecutors today.

He was paid in cash for the tasks, they added. According to Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW), those tasks – which take place between 2016 and 2021 – were aimed at “building Russian spheres of influence in Europe” as well as undermining “Polish interests in supporting Ukraine’s pro-Western aspirations”.

Mazowiecki pion PZ PK skierował do Sądu Okręgowego w Warszawie akt oskarżenia za szpiegostwo na rzecz służb specjalnych Federacji Rosyjskiej.

Więcej w komunikacje: ⬇️

— PROKURATURA (@PK_GOV_PL) February 6, 2024

In 2021, Polish investigative news outlet reported that Janusz N. organised politically biased election observation missions, supported a pro-Kremlin party in Ukraine, and maintained contacts with members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, among others.

The website said that he had entered politics in 2012, when he was chairman of a local branch of Palikot’s Movement (Ruch Palikota), a left-liberal party that had formed a year earlier. He was later briefly associated with the centre-right Polish People’s Party (PSL).

In 2015, Janusz N. joined the openly pro-Russian Change (Zmiana) party, whose leader, Mateusz Piskorski, was in 2016 arrested on charges of espionage for Russia but has since 2019 been on bail.

Janusz N. z Olsztyna, został zatrzymany przez ABW pod zarzutem szpiegostwa na rzecz Rosji. W Polsce niewielu o nim słyszało. Jego działania opisuje Anna Mierzyńska #OKOpress #ABW @Anna_Mierzynska

— (@oko_press) December 17, 2021

Ukrainian researcher Anton Shekhovtsov, the author of a report on Janusz N. cited by, theorised that it was Piskorski’s arrest that led Janusz N. to take up activities on behalf of Russia.

In their statement today, Polish prosecutors noted that, “in the course of the investigation, [we] found that the accused…had stepped up [his activities on behalf of Russia] after a colleague of his had been detained on charges of espionage”.

Shekhovtsov wrote that Janusz N. founded an organisation whose name, The European Council on Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), was evocative of European institutions, which helped him to establish cooperation with politicians from Poland and elsewhere in the EU.

According to the researcher, Janusz N. was behind the invitation to Odesa in 2016 of two senators from the centrist Civic Platform (PO) – then in opposition and now Poland’s main ruling party – during which they met, among others, with politicians of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Opposition Bloc party.

Polscy senatorowie uwięzieni w hotelu w Odessie. Blokuje ich automajdan

— Gazeta (@gazeta_wyborcza) July 13, 2016

Janusz N.’s ECDHR was also allegedly involved in “fake election observation”, which included whitewashing electoral fraud for domestic and international audiences and legitimising electoral processes considered illegitimate by the international community.

According to, a Polish MP from The Left (Lewica) – another group that is now part of Poland’s ruling coalition – who went on an election observation mission to Azerbaijan organised by Janusz N. in 2020 claimed she was convinced it was organised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a reputable institution.

Shekhovtsov’s report identifies two AfD politicians, Uli Henkel and Ulrich Singer, as being part of the same trip, as well as Věra Procházková of the Czech ANO party. Janusz N. also reportedly organised trips to Ukraine for British UKIP MEPs Nathan Gill, Jonathan Arnott and David Coburn.

When Janusz N. was arrested in May 2021, 300,000 zloty (€69,000) in cash and multiple data storage devices were found in his apartment, reported At the time, he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

In December last year, 14 foreign nationals who operated as part of a Russian spy network in Poland were sentenced to between one and six years in prison. A few months earlier, two Russians were arrested in Poland accused of being responsible for putting up recruitment posts for the Wagner mercenary group.

Fourteen members of a Russian spy network in Poland were given prison sentences today.

The group – most of whom are Ukrainians – was tasked with carrying out surveillance and sabotage, including plans to derail a train carrying military aid for Ukraine

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 19, 2023

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Main image credit: Bryan Jones/Flickr (under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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