Polish opposition blames Russia for president's death crash

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Poland's conservative opposition on Wednesday blamed Moscow for last year's air crash in Russia that killed its president Lech Kaczynski, his wife and dozens of other senior Polish officials.

"The Russian side carries primary responsibility for this disaster," said Law and Justice lawmaker Antoni Macierewicz, a hardline ally of the party's leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the late president's twin brother.

Macierewicz is head of a Polish parliamentary commission probing the April 10, 2010 crash in Smolensk, western Russia. The commission's members are all from Law and Justice.

A Russian crash report issued in January pinned the blame squarely on the Poles, saying that the pilots brought about the tragedy by insisting on landing Kaczynski's official Tupolev 154 jet in bad weather.

Macierewicz lambasted Russia, claiming that it had forged the testimony of Smolensk's air traffic controllers, who he alleged had misled the pilots.

The plane crashed in fog as it tried to land for a memorial ceremony in nearby Katyn for thousands of Polish captives slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940.

Besides Kaczynski and his wife, the other crash victims included several senior lawmakers, officials and most of the Polish military's top brass.

Macierewicz said that Smolensk airport should have been closed because of the weather conditions.

He also accused Russia of having interfered with the jet's black box's recordings so that parts of the cockpit conversation were inaudible. Russia has handed over copies of the recording to Poland, but the originals remain in Moscow.

Shared mourning over the crash led to an initial thaw in Poland's frosty ties with its communist-era master, but blame-trading has hit that.

It has also remained a political issue in Poland, ahead of a general election in October, as Law and Justice accuses the centre-right government of failing to call Moscow to account.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose Civic Platform party leads in the polls, has criticised Russia's crash report as incomplete.

The results of a separate Polish government probe into the accident are expected to be published mid-July.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article