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Tim Sebastian

Tim Sebastian the BBC’s correspondent in Warsaw from 1979 to April 1982, won the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year Award in 1981. He is now BBC Television’s European correspondent.

Liking Walesa

Tim Sebastian, 15 July 1982

For nearly eighteen months Lech Walesa walked on quicksand, buoyant and for all the world supremely confident. In the summer of 1981 I asked him whether he was worried about the Soviet tanks massing on the border. ‘I don’t see any tanks,’ he replied curtly. Vintage Walesa, or a bad day: with Walesa you never knew. There were times, though, when the confidence evaporated and the two-handed victory salutes were traded in for some fireside modesty. ‘In the years to come,’ he said once, ‘people may decide that we went about things in the worst possible way, that we got it all wrong. We’ll just have to see.’ But with Walesa there was always the likelihood of a flip retort, a quick get-out for a man who had spent his life trying to avoid the people’s police. ‘What do you think is your biggest failing?’ ‘I simply haven’t got enough time.’

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