Outgoing Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski expressed remorse Thursday over an embarrassing 1999 episode when he appeared to be drunk during a ceremony for Polish officers murdered by Soviet secret police. Kwasniewski, who is to leave office Friday, acknowledged that he drank alcohol before visiting the graves of Poles killed in 1940 by the NKVD, the KGB's predecessor, in Kharkov, Ukraine.
"I can only regret that something like that happened," Kwasniewski said in a televised interview on TVN24. Poland's treatment by the Soviet Union is a sensitive subject. As a former communist, Kwasniewski's seeming disrespect for those murdered in 1940 drew loud criticism. However, Kwasniewski is leaving office as a widely respected leader, having served back-to-back five-year terms. Lech Kaczynski won Poland's presidential election in October, and will inaugurated Friday, reports the AP. I.L.