Mouthpiece of communist Poland falls prey to market

WARSAW (Reuters Life!) - The once-powerful mouthpiece of Poland’s communist party fell silent on Monday, bowing to the demands of the free market 20 years after the advent of democracy in eastern Europe.

Trybuna, direct successor to the influential communist-era ‘Trybuna Ludu’ paper, carried the torch for Poles nostalgic for socialism after 1990, but steadily lost readers.

“Dear readers, from the weekend Trybuna is no longer available at newsstands. The publisher of our newspaper took the decision to suspend publication due to the difficult material situation,” Trybuna said in a short note on its website.

The publisher, Ad Novum, hopes to resume publication of the daily in February after talks with investors, it said, but industry analysts were doubtful, noting that the paper has been trying unsuccessfully to raise funds for some time.

Trybuna had a circulation of about 50,000, many of them elderly, before it folded.

Loyal readers expressed dismay about its demise.

“I am shattered... I read it every day since it first began. I am sorry the editorial board did not bother warning readers beforehand,” said pensioner Waldemara Gora, 80.

“I was very attached to the People’s Republic (communist Poland). It is a tragedy that in a country of nearly 40 million people there is no left-wing newspaper,” she told Reuters.

“Trybuna was an independent Polish newspaper.”

After 1989, Trybuna did not call for the restoration of one-party communist rule in Poland but strongly supported various leftwing causes.

It took the side of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland’s last communist head of state, in his efforts to avoid jail for his declaration of martial law in 1981 and his suppression of the pro-democracy Solidarity trade union.

Today, center-right parties dominate Polish politics and the ex-communist left is weak and divided.

As well as celebrating the 20th anniversary of the end of communism this year, Poles have also marked the 10th anniversary of joining NATO and the fifth anniversary of joining the European Union.

Reporting by Sally Jastrzebska, writing by Gareth Jones