WARSAW: Poland's parliament, which is controlled by the governing conservatives, on Tuesday approved legislation that paves the way for communist-era officers to be demoted.
According to the legislation, anyone who served in the military in 1943-90 and acted against national interest -- both those currently alive and dead -- may be stripped of his or her rank.
"Do we want to live in another communist Poland or in an independent Poland," Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak asked lawmakers.
"Us, we want to live in a free Poland. That's way we won't accept Soviet generals," he added as lawmakers from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party chanted "down with the communists".
Opposition lawmaker Krzysztof Mieszkowski, from the Nowoczesna party, called the legislation "political necrophilia".
The opposition also accused the PiS of not having had the courage to introduce the initiative while General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the communist leader who imposed martial law in Poland in 1981, was still alive.
He died in 2014 at the age of 90. His interior minister in 1981, General Czeslaw Kiszczak, died in 2015.
The pair were architects of the 1981 martial law edict, which sought to counter a wave of strikes and protests, led by the free trade union Solidarity, that threatened the regime.
Running to 1983, the period was marked by the arrests and prosecution of thousands, as well as the death of striking coal miners by paramilitary police.
The two generals eventually surrendered power under the so-called round table agreement with Solidarity in 1989 -- an act that helped trigger the downfall of Communist regimes across eastern Europe that year.
They retired from public life. They were prosecuted but were never punished for the regime's crimes.