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Mixed reactions to Poland's new Smolensk disaster probe

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 05.02.2016 12:33
The creation of a new sub-committee to investigate the 2010 Smolensk air disaster has sparked mixed reactions in Poland.
The wreckage of the presidential plane in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsThe wreckage of the presidential plane in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The line-up of the 21-member team was confirmed by Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz on Thursday afternoon, prompting applause from members of the governing Law and Justice party and several right-wing news outlets.

The sub-committee will start work in March.

“I am deeply convinced that this decision and the work of the [sub-commission will lead to] a final decision," Macierewicz has said, adding that this “will allow us to find out what happened, but also who is responsible”.

Macierewicz, who led a parliamentary investigative group on the tragedy while his party was in opposition, has steadfastly rejected the findings of official Polish and Russian reports to date, which concluded that the disaster was an accident.

All 96 Poles on board the Tupolev 154 plane died in the disaster, including the then president Lech Kaczyński, twin brother of current head of Law and Justice Jarosław Kaczyński.

Opposition opinions

Ryszard Petru, leader of opposition party Nowoczesna has argued that the creation of the Smolensk sub-commission is about “revenge” on the former government, which was led by centrist party Civic Platform.

Meanwhile, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who was president of Poland from 1995 to 2005, has claimed that Law and Justice is intent on “proving that the catastrophe was not an accident.”

Law and Justice has fostered a theory that the plane was downed by explosives, and that the supposed sabotage was aimed at eliminating President Kaczyński.

Kwaśniewski said on Thursday evening that Russia had no reason to feel threatened by Kaczyński. He argued that Kaczyński was lagging behind in opinion polls for the then forthcoming 2010 presidential election. At the time, the Civic Platform led government was pursuing a path of reconciliation with Russia.

Polish frustrations

However, several factors continue to frustrate Polish politicans of various parties.

Almost six years after the diaster, the wreckage of the plane is still on Russian soil, despite complaints from both the current and the previous government.

Russia has repeatedly said that the wreckage will not be returned until it has concluded its all of its own probes into the catastrophe.

Official Polish and Russian reports to date concluded that the plane crashed in thick fog while it flew too low, ploughing into trees on the fringe of Smolenk Military Airport. The Polish report found errors on both the Polish and the Russian side, whereas Moscow placed all the blame on the Poles. Russia has rebuffed claims that staff in the Smolensk Military Airport airport made any mistakes, and it has blocked the men from standing trial in Poland. (nh)


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