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Lech Walesa credits Pope for communism's downfall

Former Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, who himself has been given the credit for the end of communism in Poland, has told a press conference in the US that Pope John Paul II deserves 'the greater credit'.

Speaking in Kansas City last week on the eve of Polski Day celebrations commemorating Polish independence, he said there was no question in his mind who deserved the greater credit.

"At the moment when the pope was elected I think I had, at the most, 20 people that were around me and supported me -- and there were 40 million Polish people in the country," he said. "However ... a year after (the pope's) visit to Poland, I had 10 million supporters and suddenly we had so many people willing to join the movement,".

Walesa continued: "I compare this to the miracle of the multiplication of bread in the desert."

A shipyard electrician, Lech Walesa formed the first non-communist labour union in the Soviet bloc in 1980, and was elected the first post-communist president of Poland in 1990.