The 2010 Katyń Families Association
30.11.2016

Recently, ABC News produced a short investigative piece on the Smolensk plane crash entitled: "How Poland Coped When Most of Government Was Killed in Plane Crash". Unfortunately, an opportunity has been missed to shed light on actual key facts.

 

1. „ Much of Poland’s entire government was wiped out"; “The government was dissolved”.  Can ABC actually specify the number of governmental officials or members of government on board the plane of April 10th? The governmental delegation actually flew on April 7th this was due to the splitting of the Katyn commemoration ceremonies by the then PM and Head of Government Donald Tusk with V. Putin into two separate delegations: one ‘governmental’ which flew on April 7th and one ‘presidential’ which included the entire army command which flew on April 10th. No members of government flew on April 10th except for four representatives - all so-called Undersecretaries of State.

 

Therefore, the title alone of the ABC report on Smolensk is inaccurate.

 

The delegations were in fact split due to a political game lead by former Polish Head of Government PM Donald Tusk with Putin against the Polish President Lech Kaczyński.

 

Furthermore, Steve Ganyard by stating in the report that pilots were under pressure is simply repeating Russian propaganda that has long been proven to be untrue. Analysis of cabin recordings have ultimately proven a long time ago that there was no pressure or interference with the work of pilots. Furthermore, Captain Protasiuk issued a command to 'go-around' nevertheless the plane continued for unknown reasons its descent.

 

2. In cases where the President of the Republic of Poland requests a flight to a certain destination, his Chancellery issues an official request for the preparation of the flight to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. In accordance with Polish law and procedures, the preparation of state flights rests with the Chancellery of the Polish Prime Minister, the Ministry of Interior (supervising the Government Protection Bureau), the Ministry of Defence (owner of the Tu154M plane) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A majority of the ABC News documentary is based on an interview conducted with Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski who actually was one of the governmental parties responsible for aspects relating to organising the presidential flight. A conflict of interest? Therefore, maybe Sikorski isn’t the most credible person on the subject.

 

However, this isn't by far the only conflict of interest. Aside the fact that the Polish Committee set up to investigate the crash on the Polish side was created and operated pursuant to provisions that are contradictory to Polish aviation law (and with the Polish committee being illegal, its final report has no legal basis) it was also headed by Jerzy Miller, the then Minister of Interior, with whom lay a number of flight organisational reponsiblities. Again: Conflict of interest.


Furthermore, relatives of the victims have filled an ongoing law suit against the aforementioned ministries claiming negligence in the organisation of the flight and for not securing the flight properly - a law suit - including against officials representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representing Radoslaw Sikorski at the time. Another reason why Sikroski might not have been the perfect guest for an entire investigative documentary.

 

3. Main thesis in the documentary is based on Russian report and Russian findings with the then Polish government freely handing over the investigation to Russian authorities. With bodies being buried in Poland with coffins sealed shut in Russia and never opened in Poland. Bodies were buried without being investigated and the other main piece of evidence – the wreckage - is still held in Russia.

 

Polish authorities having then not carried out autopsies violated art. 209 of the Polish Criminal Procedure Code. Out of nine exhumations carried out so far in 2012, six bodies were buried in the wrong graves. As it turned out, the victims were buried naked in plastic bags containing dirt, mud, waste, rubbish, cigarette butts, ripped pieces of clothing and with organs having been moved around (displaced). This aspect alone perfectly portrays how the entire case was handled.

 

4. Interestingly, another main person to figure in the documentary is Mrs. Malgorzata Szmajdzińska, the wife of Smolensk crash victim Jerzy Szmajdziński former member of the communist Polish United Worker’s Party.

 

To end here and to summarise, the ABC News 20/20 investigative report is to say the least very poorly prepared and at best repeating Russian propganda at its worst. It's a great shame.

 

Link to the ABC News 20/20 investigative report: here

 

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