Poland rejects Russian findings on Kaczynski crash: PM

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Poland rejects the draft findings of a Russian probe into the April plane crash that killed its president Lech Kaczynski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday.

Speaking in Brussels where he was attending an EU summit, Tusk told reporters that the draft report submitted to Poland by Russian accident investigators was "unacceptable, without question".

"Omissions, errors and the absence of positives reactions to Polish requests all enable us to say that some of the conclusions of this report are unjustified. I'm not saying they are false, but they are not confirmed by tests," Tusk said on the Polish rolling news station TVN24.

In October, Russia said that it had established the causes of the April 10 plane tragedy in Smolensk, northwestern Russia, that killed Kaczynski and 95 other Poles.

Russian investigators handed their Polish opposite numbers their 200-page report on October 20, and said they would not publish the findings until Poland commented.

Warsaw had 60 days to submit its remarks.

On Thursday, Poland's interior ministry had said that it had given Russia 150 page of comments.

"This wasn't an opinion on the content of the entire report. We're not making final conclusions," Tusk said Friday, without elaborating.

"We've indicated exactly where the Russians have fallen down regarding their obligations under the Chicago Convention," he added, referring to global accord which regulates air-crash probes.

The Polish presidential Russian-made Tupolev-154 crashed as it landed for a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of a World War II massacre of around 22,000 captured Polish officers by the Soviet secret police.

Besides Kaczynski and his wife, those who died in the crash included Polish lawmakers, military top brass and relatives of the wartime massacre victims.

According to preliminary findings released earlier this year, investigators found that the crew ignored warnings that heavy fog made conditions unsuitable for landing and that two passengers were present in the cockpit shortly before the crash.

Polish officials have said the two passengers were Poland's air force chief General Andrzej Blasik and Mariusz Kazana, diplomatic protocol chief with Poland's foreign ministry.

But they have insisted that no evidence has emerged that pilots were pressured to land for the high-profile memorial ceremony.

Russia has stressed that it is handing full information to Poland and has made efforts to be open to the media, but Warsaw complained of delays in the investigation.

Despite that, as they reeled in the wake of the crash Poles were struck by the level of public and official mourning in Russia, and the months since the tragedy have seen a thaw in long-tense relations between Moscow and Warsaw.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev made an official trip to Poland earlier this month, the first state visit by a Kremlin leader to the country in nine years.

© 2010 AFP

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