Large groups of Polish demonstrators protested outside the Polish Palace on Sunday against the passing of a bill that critics say would silence the country’s main independent news channel, TVN.
“We are here today in defense of free media. When we stand together in solidarity, we will win. We will sweep away this government together,” said Donald Tusk , former EU Chief, now leader of the Civic Platform party.
On Friday, the bill to restrict foreign ownership of Polish media was unexpectedly passed by parliament in a surprise vote.
The bill now waits on President Andrzej Duda, who must decide whether to sign it into law.
Critics said the bill was aimed at Poland’s largest private broadcaster – US-owned TVN, whose coverage is often critical of the government.
But the government said the bill would only protect Poland’s media landscape from potentially hostile foreign actors, such as Russia or Belarus.
The deputy chief of mission B. Bix Aliu of the American embassy in Warsaw said that “the United States is extremely disappointed” and asked President Duda to “use his leadership to protect free speech and business.”
The European Commission has also warned that it will “not hesitate to take action” if the bill becomes law.
Almost two million people have signed a petition launched on Sunday morning calling the president to veto the bill.
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