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Jan Olszewski – Political Advisor to the President

Born on 20 August 1930 in Warsaw. During the Nazi occupation, as of 1943 he was part of the “Grey Ranks” underground scout organisation. In 1953 he graduated in Law at the Warsaw University. In 1954 he began scientific work in the Legal Sciences Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

During the 1956 breakthrough he was part of the editorial team of the "Po Prostu" weekly. When the magazine was closed in 1957 he was banned from working as a journalist. In 1962 he passed an exam for barrister. From the start of his work as barrister-at-law he would defend people oppressed by the communist authorities of Poland. He was counsel for defence of Jacek Kuroń, Karol Modzelewski, Janusz Szpotański and many others. In 1968 in connection with defending students arrested during the March demonstrations in Warsaw he was deprived of the possibility of acting as a counsel for defence.

Between 1975 – 1976 he took part in forming the Polish Independence Accord – a secret organisation aiming to prepare the ideological foundations of future sovereign Polish statehood.

After the strikes in June 1976 in Radom and Ursus he was part of a small team of Warsaw-based barristers, who voluntarily defended oppressed workers. He co-operated with the Workers Defence Committee and the Human and Civic Rights Defence Movement.

During the 1980 August strikes, together with Wiesław Chrzanowski and Władysław Siła-Nowicki, he prepared the articles of association of Free Trade Unions.

In the period from August 1980 until December 1981 he was an advisor to the “Solidarity” National Committee and the Board of the Mazowsze Region.

Under martial law he defended “Solidarity” activists, including Lech Wałęsa and Zbigniew Romaszewski. During these years he had the function of advisor in the Secretariat of the Polish Episcopate. He acted as auxiliary prosecutor, representing the family of father Jerzy Popiełuszko, in the trial of father Popiełuszko’s murderers. In 1989 during the “Roundtable Talks” he supported representatives of the Solidarity opposition side with his expertise.

In the first free elections to Poland’s Sejm he was elected as a deputy from Warsaw, representing the Civic Alliance party. On 5th December 1991 the Sejm appointed Jan Olszewski for the position of Prime Minister of the Polish Government, which was toppled on 4th June 1992.

In 1993 Mr Olszewski was part of the Public Constitutional Committee, which in co-operation with the “Solidarity” National Committee prepared the Civic Draft Committee, signed by one and a half million Poles. In December 1995 he became Chairman of the Movement for Reconstruction of Poland. As Member of Poland’s Parliament in the 3rd and 4th tenures he chaired the Movement’s Parliamentary Caucus.

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