July 12, 2016 / 12:03 PM / 4 years ago

Poland plans cuts to secret police pensions, pushes to purge communist past

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s government wants to lower the pensions of 32,000 officers who served in the now defunct communist secret police and bring them into line with the national average, a minister said on Tuesday.

Communism in Poland, once a member of the former Soviet bloc but now a western ally in NATO, ended in 1989 but the country has struggled to purge itself of the legacy of communist rule, which many Poles now see as a Soviet occupation.

But since the staunchly right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power last year, it has intensified these efforts.

“This fixes what had not been fixed for years,” Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told a news conference after announcing the pensions measure.

The proposal, which still needs approval from the PiS-dominated parliament, would save the budget 135 million zlotys ($34 million) annually by setting the upper limit for communist officials’ pensions at a country-wide average, the minister said.

“This is an expression of social justice. Secret police and the repressive communist state apparatus’ officers still receive high pensions. The project fixes those mistakes.”

Earlier this year, the party passed legislation forcing local authorities to rename streets and other public places commemorating people and organizations linked to the communist regime.

At the risk of upsetting Moscow, Poland is also seeking to relocate the so-called “monuments of gratitude to the Red Army,” scattered across the country, to a museum in a former Soviet military base in Poland, north-west of Warsaw.

Reporting by Wiktor Szary and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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