Russia says Poland not fully helping in crash probe

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Russian investigators on Thursday accused Poland of inhibiting the investigation of the plane crash in Russia last April that killed president Lech Kaczynski and his entire delegation.

"Out of six inquiries sent by the investigative committee to Poland, only two responses were received from the competent Polish agencies, and not in full," the probe committee said in a statement on its website.

Russian investigators have asked for analysis by Polish experts of cabin conversations recorded in the crashed Tu-154 that have been transcribed by the Polish side, but "were not told if this was completed," the statement said.

Response to all inquiries is "necessary to establish a full and objective picture of the catastrophe and reasons behind it," it said.

Diplomatic relations thawed between Russia and Poland up until Russia released a report in January that said the blame for the crash rested wholly on inexperienced pilots who ignored warnings from the Smolensk airport traffic controllers not to land.

Poland has disputed the findings and said controllers failed to notify the crew the president's plane was off-course and criticized the poor state of the small airport.

The crash happened as the Polish delegation was was flying to attend a memorial service for the thousands of Polish officers who were shot by the Soviet secret service during World War II in nearby Katyn forest.

The Katyn tragedy, classified by Soviet authorities, has long poisoned ties between Russia and Poland, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made many of the documents pertaining to the massacre public last year.

The latest statement from Russian investigation comes three days before the one year anniversary of the crash and as the countries' heads of state are preparing to meet again in Katyn on April 11th.

© 2011 AFP

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