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Russia’s crash probe aims to ‘weaken’ Poland: official

Russia wants to weaken and divide Poland by publishing a “dishonest” report blaming Poles for the air crash which killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski, a senior Polish presidential aide said Thursday.

“The Russians have written a very dishonest report, not taking into consideration all the circumstances of the catastrophe, and published it in a manner designed to make the Polish opposition attack the Polish government,” Tomasz Nalecz, an historian and advisor to Poland’s liberal President Bronislaw Komorowski told public broadcaster Polskie Radio.

“There have been many times in Poland’s history that it was in Russia’s interest to fuel internal Polish conflicts and create a situation in which Poles will fight among themselves because this weakens Poland and gives Russia more room for manoeuvre,” Nalecz said.

Last week Russian investigators published a report clearing Russian air traffic control of responsibility for the crash. Inexperienced Polish pilots took the decision to land “under inappropriate conditions” in thick fog under pressure from senior Polish officials on the flight, the Russian report said.

Lech Kaczynski’s surviving twin and conservative Law and Justice (PiS) opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused the Russians of making “a mockery of Poland” and has vehemently criticised liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk for failing to guarantee a fair and impartial probe into the crash.

“In my opinion, the opposition which thinks it is defending Poland’s honour — I’m speaking of the PiS — is playing the main role in the Russian scenario,” Nalecz said Thursday.

The husband and lawyer of Lech Kaczynski’s only child Marta said Monday that Moscow may have plotted to assassinate the president.

Without denying any of the Russian crash report’s conclusions, Prime Minister Tusk termed it “incomplete”.

Poland has said Russian investigators omitted mistakes and shortcomings on the Russian side, including errors by air traffic controllers and the very poor technical condition of the Smolensk air traffic control facility.

On Tuesday, Poland made public recordings showing Russian air traffic controllers had given the Polish crew incorrect altitude and flight path coordinates during a landing approach made in a thick fog which should have seen the airport shut.

Russia countered Wednesday with transcripts showing air traffic control warned Kaczynski’s plane not to land.