Moscow has no grounds to withhold Smolensk plane wreck: Polish FM
PR dla Zagranicy
Moscow has no grounds for withholding the wreck of the Polish presidential plane which crashed in Smolensk in 2010, the Polish foreign minister has said after meeting the Russian ambassador to Poland.
Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told Russian ambassador Sergey Andreev that the unreturned wreck of the Polish plane was one of the things standing in the way of improved Polish-Russian ties.
Russia has said it would return the wreck after it closes an investigation into the crash, but Czaputowicz said the claim was a “pretext” and that the probe has been extended 16 times already.
“We think that the wreck is Polish property and it should be returned,” Czaputowicz said, adding that Poland also wanted access to the crash site.
On 10 April 2010, a Polish plane carrying then-President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and 94 others – mostly political and military top brass – crashed while trying to land at a military airport in Smolensk, western Russia.
According to a commission set up by Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party to investigate the crash, the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as the presidential plane was approaching the runway.
The PiS 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.
Despite repeated requests from Warsaw, Russia has refused to return the wreckage of the plane to Poland. (vb/pk)