Kurier Wileński

Kurier Wileński
Kurier Wileński logo.png
Type Daily newspaper
Format A4
Owner VšĮ "Kurier Wilenski"
Publisher UAB "Klion"
Editor Robert Mickiewicz
Staff writers 24
Founded 1796
Language Polish language
Headquarters Birbynių 4A
02121 Vilnius 30
Circulation 2,500 Daily
3,500 Saturday
Official website kurierwilenski.lt

Kurier Wileński is the main Polish-language Lithuanian newspaper, printed in Vilnius, and the only Polish language daily newspaper published east of Poland. A direct descendant of both the 19th century newspaper of the same name and the Czerwony Sztandar newspaper, created by the Soviet authorities in 1953 as a means of Sovietization of the Polish diaspora left in the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. The newspaper is a member of the European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages (MIDAS) and is read by approximately 6,3% of inhabitants of the city of Vilnius, as well as 13,6% of the inhabitants of the area[citation needed].



Early history

The newspaper was first founded under the name of Kurier Litewski in 1796 in Grodno. The following year it moved to Wilno, where it became one of the principal sources of information for the local population. After the November Uprising, in 1834, the newspaper was ordered to prepare a Russian language version as well, and served the role of the official newspaper of the Russian authorities. However, it also fulfilled an important role in countering the Russification of local Poles.

In 1840 the newspaper was renamed to Kurier Wileński and started to attract many of the most notable Polish writers and journalists of the epoch as one of the very few relatively free newspapers in the lands ruled by Imperial Russia. Among them was Władysław Syrokomla and Antoni Odyniec. The newspaper was closed down and banned in 1863, in the effect of the Russian reprisals after the January Uprising.

It was reactivated under the title of Kurier Litewski in 1905, after the Revolution of 1905. Headed by Eliza Orzeszkowa, it promoted Polish literature and culture, for which it was closed down several times by the tsarist authorities. The title remained until the outbreak of World War I and the German occupation of Wilno in 1915.

During the interbellum the Polish press was no longer persecuted by the local authorities and the title was continued as one of several newspapers, the most important local newspapers being Słowo (headed by Stanisław Cat Mackiewicz), Robotnik Wileński and Express Wileński. Altogether, there were 114 newspapers published in Wilno in late 1930s, among them 17 dailies. 74 titles were being published in the Polish language, 16 in Yiddish and Hebrew, 12 in Belarusian, 9 in Lithuanian and 3 in Russian.

After the outbreak of the Invasion of Poland of 1939 and the Soviet annexation of Wilno, Kurier Wileński, as it was called back then, was closed down (the last issue was dated September 18, 1939). The only newspaper that was allowed by the soviet authorities was Belarusian language Vilenskaya Prauda.

After the city was transferred to Lithuania, Kurier Wileński was allowed to be published, this time under heavy control of the Lithuanian authorities and censorship. It was again closed down after the city was annexed by the Soviet Union and its role was taken over by roughly 73 underground newspapers published in the city during the rest of World War II.

"Czerwony Sztandar"

After the war most of the local inhabitants of Vilnius chose or were forced to leave for Poland. However, minority was left in place, mostly in the areas around the city. That is why on July 1, 1953 a Polish language newspaper Czerwony Sztandar (Red Banner) (with Antoni Fiedorowicz as editor-in-chief) started to be published by decree of Joseph Stalin.[1] Initially run mostly by Jews and Russians, it was seen as one of the means of Sovietization of the remaining Poles. Starting with 1956, when lots of Jews were forced to leave fo Israel, it started to become more and more Polish-run paper.

However, in 1962 the Leonid Romanowicz became the new editor in chief. Although Russian himself, Romanowicz was fascinated with the Polish culture and started to attract many notable journalists and writers. He also promoted the newspaper and it became the only daily newspaper in Polish language available to many Poles in the Soviet Union. With time the Russian part of staff was replaced by Poles and in 1984, Stanisław Jakutis became the new editor in chief.

Name change to "Kurier Wileński"

In 1988 (on November 1) Stanisław Jakutis was replaced with Zbigniew Balcewicz, who at the time of Lithuanian rebirth in 1990 renamed the newspaper to Kurier Wileński, to underline the traditions. The renaming was not easy, as the first attempt to rename the daily was dismissed on XX Assembly of Bureau of Central Committee of Lithuania, as "Newspaper with such name was being published during the period between World Wars, when Wilna region was under Polish occupation".

Only after second attempt, made after publication by Lithuanian scientist about the roots of "Kurier Wileński" and the history of Lithuanian press, on February 9 of 1990, "Czerwony Sztandar" ceased to exist and was replaced by "Kurier Wileński".


On February 23 of 1990 bureau of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania and Chair of the Supreme Council of Lithuania issued a statement, of which 3rd point stated, that "In order to reflect the opinions of representants of various nationalities and social classes of the Republic, we state that "Sovietskaya Litva" and "Kurier Wileński" are the newspapers of The Supreme Council of Lithuania and The Council of Ministers of Lithuania". On May 2, special issue of the newspaper was issued, and "Dziennik KC KP Litwy" ("The daily of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Lithuania") was removed from the paper's front page.


In 1995 the newspaper was privatised by its staff and in upcoming turmoil almost went bancrupt. It was taken over by UAB "Klion", and, after being reorganised and modernised, was moved to the new quarters. In 2000 it was passed to Vilnijos Žodis public company, which is its publisher now.


The newspaper is still unable to earn enough money to sustain itself, so it has been sponsored mostly by UAB "Klion", with substantial help from Polish Senate - every year it transfers approximately 120 000 litas, which helps to partially cover paper and printing costs. Every month the daily receives 4 thousand litas from Vilnius city municipality for four advertising pages a month.[2]

"Kurier Wileński" is being printed in its own printing shop, which proved much cheaper, than printing anywhere else. Its current circulation is between 2.500 and 3.500, issued Tuesday through Saturday, with TV supplement and 24 pages on Saturday (daily issues have only 16 pages).

Papers staff consists of 24 people, including printing-shop's workers, management and such. There are 4 full-time journalists, 4 half-time journalists and 7 freelancers. "Gazeta Harcerska" ("Scout's gazette") - weekly page about Polish scouts is made exclusively by aforementioned scouts.

Other activities

During the Perestroika and the dissolution of the USSR, Czerwony Sztandar and, later, Kurier WIleński led numerous social campaigns. Among the most important deeds was campaign for preservation of the Rossa Cemetery (which was planned to be demolished) and support for creation of Polish kindergartens to prevent the growing Lithuanization of Polish children.

"Kurier Wileński" is also, along with Gazeta Wyborcza, responsible for media coverage of annual festival "Kaziuki Wilniuki" (inspired by Vilnese holiday Kaziuko mugė) in Lidzbark Warmiński, being organised on March 3 to 6 every year.[3]

On August 5 of year 2005, journalists of "Kurier Wileński", together with colleagues from "Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny", "Magazyn Wileński", "Znad Wilii" Radio Station, "Znad Wilii" quarterly and "Album Wileńskie" TV-program organised a protest in front of the Belorussian embassy in Vilnius against Belorussia's regime's repressions against polish journalists.[4]

On October 16 of year 2008, daily performed a long announced transition for the F4 format[5] (before that, "Kurier Wileński" was being published in Tabloid format).


Much of controversy surrounds the daily for much the time regarding its financial status and pre-takeover (by UAB "Klion") left-overs. Also, there are conflict's with Lithuanian nationalists, of whom lots regard Lithuanian Poles as merely polonised Lithuanians.[6]

Controversy regarding article of Krzysztof Buchowski

In November 2006, "Kurier Wileński" printed article of Polish historian from Białystok University Krzysztof Buchowski - "Jak Polak widział Litwina w okresie międzywojennym" (pl. "How did Pole perceive Lithuanian in between World Wars"), which was read on Polish-Lithuanian historical conference "Stosunki polsko-litewskie na przestrzeni wieków" (pl. "Lithuanian-Polish relations through the ages") on Vilnius University.

Only in January 2007 (before municipal elections, in which Polish party also participated), Lithuanian TV-program "Savaitės komentarai" on the TV3 station sparked a scandal about how "Polish daily engages in sparking national conflicts between Lithuanians and Poles". Information about the article was passed on to Lithuanian Commission on Ethics of Journalists and Publishers ( lt. "Lietuvos žurnalistų ir leidėjų etikos komisija"), which, on March 19, 2007 made verdict, that "Kurier Wileński" acted unethically and, in fact, did commit crime of sparking nationality-based conflicts.[7] No representative from the daily was invited to the assembly of the Commission, which made the verdict[citation needed].

The daily made an appellation to the decision, and on the second reading on April 2, 2007, on which dailies editor-in-chief Robert Mickiewicz and publication's redactor Jan Sienkiewicz were present, the Commission yet again stated that "Kurier Wileński" acted unethically and did spark nationality-based conflicts. Robert Mickiewicz announced, that he will take Commission's decision to court.[8]

As of September 2010, court case is still unsettled.

See also

External links


  1. ^ (Polish) Sienkiewicz, Jan (2003). Kronika na gorąco pisana: "Czerwony Sztandar" - "Kurier Wileński" 1953-2003. Wilno: Kurier Wileński. p. 258. ISBN 9955-9628-1-X. 
  2. ^ (Lithuanian)"Lietuvius juodinantį straipsnį išspausdinęs „Kurier Wilenski” savo nuomonę ketina ginti teisme". http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=12731505. Retrieved 2007-08-09. "„Kurier Wilenski” kasmet iš Lenkijos senato gauna 120 000 litų dotaciją, už kurią perka popierių bei dengia dalį spausdinimo išlaidų. 4 tūkst. litų „Kurier Wilenski” kas mėnesį skiria ir Vilniaus miesto savivaldybė, už tai leidinyje gaunanti keturis puslapius reklaminio ploto." 
  3. ^ (Polish)"Kaziuki Wilniuki w weekend". http://miasta.gazeta.pl/olsztyn/1,35186,2581345.html. 
  4. ^ (Lithuanian)"Baltarusijos ambasadai įteiktas spaudos laisvę Baltarusijoje ginantis kreipimasis". http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=7228826. 
  5. ^ (Polish)"Kurier Wileński w nowym formacie". http://www.kurierwilenski.lt/index-article.php?subaction=showfull&id=1224168256&ucat=1&archive=&start_from=&. 
  6. ^ (Lithuanian)"Varpas - Lietuvos Laisvės Kovotojų Sąjungos Leidinys, Nr 06, 2007 (Antanas R. Šakalys - "Kur tautiškumo ir valstybės tapatybės krizė", page 3" (PDF). http://www3.lrs.lt/docs2/KMKLLMMH.PDF. 
  7. ^ (Lithuanian)"„Kurier Willenski“ už lietuvių juodinimą – žurnalistų etikos sargų kirtis". http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=12561787. 
  8. ^ (Lithuanian)"Lietuvius juodinantį straipsnį išspausdinęs „Kurier Wilenski” savo nuomonę ketina ginti teisme". http://www.delfi.lt/archive/article.php?id=12731505. 

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