Jan Olszewski, Former Polish Prime Minister, Dies at 88

© Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo File – In this photo taken in Warsaw, Poland, Dec. 21, 1991, Jan Olszewski addressing lawmakers during a session in which he was voted to be democratic Poland’s third prime minister. Olszewski, who served in 1991 and 1992, was an anti-communist activist and a courageous lawyer who defended dissidents in communist-era political trials. Olszewski died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2019, at the age of 88. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Jan Olszewski, a Polish anti-communist dissident and former prime minister, has died. He was 88.

Olszewski died in a Warsaw hospital late Thursday after a long illness, the news agency PAP reported Friday, citing former Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz.

Many Polish officials praised Olszewski for his service to the nation, describing him as a person of honor and honestly.

“Jan Olszewski was a person of crystal honesty and faithful to his views, and at the same time immensely courageous. He proved his steadfastness many times,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. “The Republic has suffered an unimaginable loss today.”

Olszewski, a Warsaw native born in 1930, was a young teenager when he participated in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi German occupiers of the country during World War II.

Under Soviet-backed communism, Olszewski was a lawyer who defended anti-communist dissidents in political trials.

In the 1980s he was a leading figure in the anti-communist Solidarity movement, helping to draft its founding charter. He also took part in the Round Table Talks in 1989 that negotiated a peaceful transition from communism to democracy.

Olszewski served as prime minster for six months from 1991 to 1992, making him the shortest-serving premier in Poland’s post-communist era.”Sad news has come from Warsaw,” Donald Tusk, the European Council president and a former Polish prime minister, said on Twitter. He remembered his predecessor as “a courageous defense attorney in political trials, a participant of Solidarity, a good man. May he rest in peace.”

A government official said there will be a state funeral for Olszewski but a date was not yet given.