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In Poland, Gdansk Mayor Dies After Being Stabbed At Charity Event


The mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk died this morning after doctors fought for hours to save his life. Pawel Adamowicz was stabbed yesterday during a televised charity event. Shortly before he was attacked on stage, the mayor had complimented the audience on the money they'd helped to raise. This is a wonderful time of spreading good, he said. You are all wonderful. Gdansk is the most amazing city.

Well, reporter Anna Noryskiewicz joins us from Berlin. Hi, Anna.


KELLY: Can you give us more details about what exactly happened last night in Gdansk?

NORYSKIEWICZ: So the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, was attacked on Sunday while he was attending the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, which is an annual event where volunteers raise money for medical equipment and hospitals. And a 27-year-old attacker stabbed him multiple times. And he later - after a very long surgery, what lasted more than five hours, he later died from his wounds.

KELLY: Do we know anything about the motives of this 27-year-old attacker?

NORYSKIEWICZ: So it is not yet clear if the motives were political. It was definitely a criminal attack. The attacker reportedly shouted that the mayor's former party which he belonged to, the Civil (ph) Platform, was responsible for his incarceration because the attacker was in jail for more than five years for robbing a bank and for other charges. And he reportedly shouted that the Civic Platform wrongfully indicted him or was responsible for him being wrongfully convicted.

KELLY: What should we know about the mayor? I was reading up on him, and I gather he was widely known throughout Poland for supporting gay rights, for supporting the rights of immigrants.

NORYSKIEWICZ: Exactly. So now you can say that Poland is really in a state of shock because he was a very popular figure and known best for his political - or liberal political views, very pro-immigration and an advocate for LBGTQ rights with a very harsh stance on anti-Semitism as well. And of course, he was a critic of the right-wing, nationalist Law and Justice Party, which is the ruling government since 2015. And he himself was an independent politician but used to be a long-term member of the liberal Civic Platform. And he's a father of two girls, married. And he held the position for two decades.

KELLY: For 20 years. Wow.

NORYSKIEWICZ: Exactly. And he first came to power in 1998, and he had been reelected four times, including in the last elections in November.

KELLY: And you were starting to mention what the reaction to this has been in Poland. I gather there were rallies today, anti-violence rallies.

NORYSKIEWICZ: Exactly. So from all major political parties, people were condemning the attack. Again, he was a very famous public figure. And you have to understand that ever since the national right-wing, conservative Law and Justice party came into power, the political atmosphere in Poland is very tense because basically what you can say is that society is really divided into pro-government supporters and into supporters of the Civil (ph) Platform. And recently, there've been attacks and altercations between those two platforms.

KELLY: Have we seen violence like this before - a murder?

NORYSKIEWICZ: Well, we've seen altercations, and we've seen attacks on both peace supporters and Civil (ph) Platform supporters. So these incidents happen, but not yet that they actually resulted in death.

KELLY: But you're describing a political climate that, to use your word, has gotten more tense, has gotten more violent in recent days and months.


KELLY: That's reporter Anna Noryskiewicz reporting on the fatal stabbing of the mayor of Gdansk in Poland.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAR'S "1ST SESSION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.