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Jacek Kuron

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Jacek Jan Kuroń (b. March 3, 1934 in Lww - June 17, 2004, Warsaw, Poland) was a Polish historian, dissident and opposition leader with the Solidarity movement. During his political career he was well known for his sensitivity to social issues.

Jacek Kuroń's first contact with politics began in 1949 when he joined Związek Młodzieży Polskiej (ZMP), the youth organisation closely affiliated with the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR). In 1952 he started working as a scoutmaster in the scouting section of this association. In 1953 he became president of the Warsaw University of Technology's ZMP affiliate, but was quickly expelled both from ZMP and PZPR for openly criticising ZMP's ideology.

After graduating from Warsaw University with a degree in History in 1957, Jacek Kuroń worked in Polish Scouting Association, the Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (ZHP) until 1964. In 1965 he was sentenced to three years in prison for publishing fifteen copies of An Open Letter to the Party. Released in 1967, he was again arrested, and sentenced to three and a half years in 1968 for organisation of a student strike during the so-called "March events".

In 1975 he was one of the organisers of protests against including in the Polish Constitution mention of close relations with the Soviet Union. In 1976 he was one of the founders of Komitet Obrony Robotnikw.

In the summer of 1980 he was an aide to the Solidarity trade union. After Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law on December 13 1981 Kuroń, along with other dissidents, was interned. In 1982 Kuroń was once again sentenced to four years in prison for an alleged attempt to overturn the regime. He was released due to an amnesty in 1984.

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Grave of Jacek Kuroń in Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw

In 1989 Kuroń took part in Round Table talks. During 1989-1990 and 1992-1993 he was a Minister for Social Welfare. In 1995 he was a candidate for President of Republic of Poland.

Kuroń received the Order of the White Eagle and the Lgion d'honneur. He died, after a long illness, in 2004.

Jacek Kuroń was famous for his disdain for social rules. He always wore jeans trousers and a casual jacket, even at official functions as a minister, or when he was decorated with honors. Nor did he hold his tongue. When supporting the Unia Wolności Party in the 1997 elections, he said in a televised advertisement for the party: "If we do not give a shit now, all we are going to receive is shit itself" (Jeśli się teraz zesramy, to będzie gwno). Kuroń never had a driving licence.

Such traits won him hearts of Poles, and until his retirement from politics and for some years after he constantly lead polls as Poland's most trusted politician. He was called "our man in the politics".

The Polish unemployment benefit is colloquially referred by Poles as kuroniwka (literally "Kuroń's soup") in tribute to Jacek Kuroń's legacy as Minister for Social Welfare.

External link

eo:Jacek KURON pl:Jacek Kuroń ru:Куронь, Яцек

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