Jozef Oleksy, a former Prime Minister of Poland, died on Friday at the age of 68.
Oleksy held the post of premier between 1995 and 1996, after serving as Sejm speaker between 1993 and 1995.
“Jozef Oleksy has passed away today,” an SLD spokesperson said. Local media said he was taken to an oncology hospital. He had battled cancer for many years.
Former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa was not only saddened by the death, but also felt sorry that he did not ask for forgiveness over past accusations that Oleksy was a communist agent.
“I have a pang of conscience over Jozef Oleksy. Well, I had an appointment with him, because I wanted to apologise for [calling him a] Russian agent. But through a series of misfortune I broke my leg [in December] and could not do that. So today I publicly apologise and ask for forgiveness,” Walesa said.
Oleksy was a central figure in the round-table talks which led to the establishing of the Third Republic of Poland. Before the fall of communism in 1990, he had been a long-serving functionary in the party, becoming a member in 1969.