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Russia aims to force Poland to close Smolensk probe: Polish FM

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 29.09.2017 10:42
Moscow's "stubborn" refusal to cooperate with Warsaw and hand over the Smolensk plane wreckage aims "to force us to close the investigation" Poland's foreign minister has said.
Photo: The crashed Polish presidential plane near Smolensk, western Russia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bartosz Staszewski, PRS Team.net. (CC BY-SA 2.5)Photo: The crashed Polish presidential plane near Smolensk, western Russia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Bartosz Staszewski, PRS Team.net. (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Officially, Moscow has not handed over the wreckage of the presidential plane because it is still investigating the crash in Smolensk, western Russia, which on 10 April 2010 killed all 96 on board, including then-Polish President Lech Kaczyński.

But Waszczykowski has said that “we know from diplomatic talks that [the Russian investigation] is an excuse” not to give back the wreckage.

Waszczykowski added that Russia was refusing the return the wreck in the hopes that Poland gives up.
But the Polish foreign minister said that the longer Russia withholds the wreck, the more Warsaw is suspicious that Moscow has something to hide.

Waszczykowski said that Russia was refusing the return the wreck in the hope that Poland gives up its investigation into the disaster.

But he added that the longer Russia keeps the wreckage, the more Warsaw will be suspicious that Moscow has something to hide.

Waszczykowski also said that Polish authorities did not ask for the wreckage in 2010, and that, from the crash until the conservative Law and Justice party's election in 2015, “not enough” was done to investigate the crash.

“Why? Because in 2010, after the Smolensk disaster which killed President Lech Kaczyński and many other politicians, we had presidential elections and elections to local governments. It was not in the interests of those politicians, who were to take those vacancies, to talk with Russia to explain the disaster”.

“They ran from responsibility and because there were two election campaigns, they did not want the Smolensk issue and the lack of results from any investigations to affect those campaigns.”

Earlier this year, a commission investigating the crash said the presidential plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as the plane was approaching the runway of the Smolensk military airport in 2010.

A new commission to investigate the crash was set up by the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party which came to power in 2015.

The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczyński.

PiS has long challenged an official report into the crash issued by the previous Polish government which cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.

A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP

tags: Smolensk
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