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Jerzy Urban (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjɛʐɨ ˈurban]), also known as: Jerzy Kibic, Jan Rem, Klakson (born August 3, 1933 in Łódź) born Jerzy Urbach, is a Polish journalist, commentator, writer and politician, editor-in-chief of the weekly Nie and owner of the company which owns it, Urma.
Urban was born in Jewish family in Łódź. His father was an activist of PPS and Bund. In 1939, during the issuing of his Soviet ID, an official confused the letters in his name (ch – х in Russian, was transcribed as н – corresponding to the Latin n). Nevertheless his parents decided not change it, a move which possibly saved their lives when Germany seized Lviv in 1941.
Jerzy Urban reportedly attended 17 different primary and high schools. He completed his senior high school exams as an external student. He studied in two faculties of the University of Warsaw and was expelled from both. He started his journalistic career with the journal Nowa Wieś.
During 1955-1957, he was a journalist – reporter and commentator – for the weekly Po prostu, which started during the rehabilitation of Władysław Gomułka, who became communist party leader. However, the newspaper was closed by the personal initiative of Gomułka, which symbolised the end of the thaw which started under Gomułka. The newspaper was closed mainly because of the biting, uncompromising opinion articles by Urban. Urban himself was officially banned from publishing under his own name. From 1961, he worked for the weekly Polityka, continuing his opinion pieces under pseudonyms. He was eventually totally forbidden from carrying out any journalistic activities. This ban continued until Gomułka lost power as party leader.
From August 1981 to April 1989, Jerzy Urban was a government spokesperson. He created the tradition of weekly press conferences, transmitted by the Polish television and attended by both Polish and foreign journalists.
In 1986 Urban masterminded a media story that the United States had betrayed the Solidarity movement. On June 3 he met with a Washington Post reporter and told him that a Polish spy for the CIA, who was later identified as Ryszard Kukliński, was aware of the plan to install martial law in 1981 and had passed that information on to Washington. "The US administration could have publicly revealed these plans to the world and warned Solidarity," Urban said, "Had it done so, the implementation of martial law would have been impossible." At a June 6 press conference Urban alleged that "Washington ... did not warn its allies. It did not boast of its agent as it customarily does." According to Urban, the Reagan administration had "lied to its own people and to its friends in Poland," when it denied having prior knowledge of martial law.
During the semi-free elections in 1989, Urban candidated as an independent (he was never a member of the PZPR). He suffered a landslide defeat and since then gave up attempts to actively participate in politics.
In 1990 he established Nie, an anti-clerical tabloid-like newspaper, which often uses profanity. He has been the chief editor ever since and the newspaper itself has few readers.