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Polish plane crash anniversary beset by questions. Poland's ruling party on Sunday blamed the government of then-Prime Minister Donald Tusk for the 2010 plane crash. The crash of the presidential jet in Smolensk, has led to accusing the previous government of negligence in preparations for the flight. Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said last month that a bomb on board may have been the cause. The ruling Law & Justice party led is planning a new investigation into the 2010 crash.
Poland marked the sixth anniversary of the airplane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Russia, in state ceremonies top officials have called the accident an attempt to assassinate the anti-Kremlin leader. Whereas, the leader of Poland's ruling party on Sunday blamed the government of then-Prime Minister Donald Tusk for the 2010 plane crash. The crash of the presidential jet in Smolensk, has led to accusing the previous government of negligence in preparations for the flight. "Regardless of the causes of this tragedy, someone has the responsibility, at least the moral responsibility for it, Kaczynski told thousands gathered for the ceremony. "The previous government is responsible, the one led by Donald Tusk." (Tusk and his ministers have denied previous similar allegations. Tusk is now the European Council president in Brussels.)
On Sunday, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, President Andrzej Duda and other government officials, victims' families and thousands of Poles took part in prayers and wreaths' laying at the victims' graves and memorials. Observances were also held at the crash site in Russia.
Poland’s president and prime minister for the first time took part in commemorations of the Smolensk plane crash after rejecting years of investigations into the tragedy that devastated a swath of the country’s ruling elite. The late president’s twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, laid a wreath in front of the Presidential Palace in the historic center of Warsaw. Six years earlier, tens of thousands of people gathered there after the Polish government’s Russian-made Tu-154 airplane crashed on approach to a provincial airport in western Russia. A number of plaques were unveiled on Sunday that the governing camp said were only able to be installed in front of official buildings now that political opponents had been sidelined. On Sunday, Mr. Duda, a former aide to the late president, laid flowers at the Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, where the remains of Mr. Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, are interred.
The surviving Mr. Kaczynski leads the socially conservative Law and Justice party that has governed Poland since November. The party’s candidate, Andrzej Duda, won the presidency in May last year. Kaczynski's conservative Law and Justice Party took all power in Poland last year and is reviving allegations that the crash was a conspiracy by Russia and by Tusk's government which did not get along with the president. Earlier Sunday, President Andrzej Duda said that all facts should be revealed in a new probe. "We owe (the victims) an honest and thorough examination of what happened then, without unnecessary political quarrels," President Andrzej Duda said during the observances. "Let the experts do it in peace and in a sense of responsibility."
Civic Platform Party, as well as official reports in Poland and Russia, have blamed pilot error for the crash in thick fog, less than a mile short of the runway of the dilapidated Smolensk airport. The Law and Justice Party has disputed those findings. It says investigations in Poland and Russia overlooked evidence, including the possibility that the airport’s instrument landing system was off and that the plane might have disintegrated mid-air. The crash of the government jet plunged Poland into deep mourning, initially uniting the nation before becoming one of the most divisive issues in recent years. The previous centrist administration of the Civic Platform party has largely concurred with the findings in Moscow, which pointed to pilot error, while the current governing camp has, for years, insisted other possible reasons for the crash were ignored.
Poland’s current government has referred to the late Mr. Kaczynski as “a fallen president,” suggesting he was killed in battle rather than in an accident. President Kaczynski was a staunch critic of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who rallied crowds in Tbilisi in 2008 during Russia’s war with Georgia. Mr. Kaczynski said at the time Russia had designs on “Georgia today, Ukraine tomorrow, the Baltic States the day after tomorrow, and perhaps later my country.”
Some, including Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, have openly talked about the crash as part of a push by Russia to regain its superpower status. “What happened near Smolensk was aimed at depriving Poland of its leadership,” Mr. Macierewicz said in March. “Russia’s military, political and economic expansion, which has long been said to have replaced tanks with gas and oil pipelines, is being accompanied by a long-developed and practiced rule of state terrorism,” he said.
New investigation launched
Law and Justice has rejected the conclusions of two separate investigations by Poland and Russia that blamed poor weather and pilot error. Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said last month that a bomb on board may have been the cause. Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told the Polish wSieci magazine in January that Russia had “something to hide” because it denied Poland access to evidence and didn’t return the wreckage. The ruling Law & Justice party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski is planning a new investigation into the 2010 crash in the Russian city, which killed 96 people including then-President Lech Kaczynski, his twin, as well as the head of the central bank and top military officials.
Kaczynski and his followers claim that Tusk and his government neglected the security of the president and later failed to conduct a proper, international investigation. The party also claims that Tusk's team failed to properly honor the fallen president and other members of the nation's elite. "The Smolensk tragedy and the events before and after it were a dramatic evidence of the poor quality of our state, of poor management, of mistakes," Duda said about Poland under Tusk. They also claim they have evidence that "almost certainly" proves that the president's plane fell into pieces in midair from an attack as it was preparing to land at Smolensk airport. Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said the crash was an act of terrorism perpetrated by Russia. The theory is fueled by Moscow's refusal to return the wreckage to Poland, while Russia's prosecutors say they are trying to determine whether anyone is guilty of the crash.
The late president and his entourage were on their way to commemorate the Katyn Massacre of 1940, executions by the Soviet secret police of about 22,000 Polish army officers during World War II on orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Source: Wall Street Jounral, Bloomberg, Euronews, Dailymail, Agence France Presse, Associated Press