Under cover of Covid, Poland is stifling free media – and all Europe should be worried | Timothy Garton Ash

A planned ‘coronavirus tax’ on revenues and attacks on foreign-owned media threaten to cut away democracy piece by piece

Democracy dies in darkness. One of the European Union’s most fragile democracies, Poland, now faces the spectre of the night that falls when public service media have been turned into propaganda organs for a ruling party while private, independent media are suffocated. In the end, light is cast no more on the failings and abuses of those in power, because there are no more torches to shine that light. Hungary – which is no longer a democracy – has almost reached that twilight moment, with the extinction of its last major independent radio station.

Poland is still a long way from dusk, but the threat is real. In the World Press Freedom index, the country has sunk from 18th in 2015, ahead of Britain and France, to 62nd last year. (Hungary is down at 89th.)

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Timothy Garton Ash is a Guardian columnist

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