July 20, 2015 / 5:06 PM / 4 years ago

Poland's Sikorski, vocal Kremlin critic, bows out of politics

Poland's parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski gestures during a press conference at the parliament in Warsaw, June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

WARSAW (Reuters) - Former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Monday he would quit parliament this year, ending a political career in which he became a standard-bearer for people on both sides of the Atlantic who saw Russia as a threat.

Exiled to Britain as a student in the 1980s for plotting against Poland’s then-Communist rulers, Sikorski worked as a foreign correspondent before returning home after the transition to democracy and joining the Polish government.

His confident style and eloquent warnings about a renewed threat from the Kremlin led to him being tipped, at various times, as a future NATO secretary-general, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, or Polish president.

His stance on Russia was, for some, vindicated when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula last year.

But some in Europe also saw Sikorski as too anti-Russian, and his political standing at home was eroded when secret recordings captured him in a Warsaw restaurant describing Polish-U.S. relations as worthless and the British prime minister as either reckless or incompetent.

He was moved from the foreign minister’s job to speaker of parliament, but resigned that post in June because of the fallout from the secret recordings.

In a Twitter post on Monday, Sikorski said he had decided not to run for another term when Poland votes in a parliamentary election in October.

Sikorski, who is married to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum, gave no reason for stepping down and did not say what he planned to do next.

Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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