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President of Poland Killed in Plane Crash in Russia  

2010-04-10 22:37:47|  分类: 科学与健康 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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President of Poland Killed in Plane Crash in Russia - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD

Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

An interior ministry officer stood guard near a part of the wreckage.


Published: April 10, 2010

MOSCOW — A plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, and dozens of the country’s top political and military leaders crashed in a heavy fog in western Russia on Saturday morning, killing everyone aboard.

Television showed chunks of flaming fuselage scattered in a bare forest near Smolensk, where the president was arriving for a ceremony commemorating the murder of more than 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet secret police after the Red Army invaded Poland.

The governor of Smolensk region, Sergei Antufiyev, said the plane did not reach the runway but instead hit the treetops and broke apart. His spokesman later said that air traffic controllers had recommended the president’s jet land at another airport because of bad visibility, but that the crew decided to land anyway. The crash came as a staggering blow to Poland, wiping out a large swath of the country’s leadership, including the commanders of all four branches of the military, the head of the central bank, the president and many of his top advisors. In the numb hours after the crash, leaders in Warsaw evoked the horror of the massacre at Katyn, which stood for decades as a symbol of Russian domination.

“It is a damned place,” former president Aleksander Kwasniewski told TVN24. “It sends shivers down my spine. First the flower of the Second Polish Republic is murdered in the forests around Smolensk, now the intellectual elite of the Third Polish Republic die in this tragic plane crash when approaching Smolensk airport.”

“This is a wound which will be very difficult to heal,” he said.

Former president Lech Walesa, who presided over Poland’s transition from communism, cast the crash in similarly historic terms.

“This is the second disaster after Katyn,” he said. “They wanted to cut off our head there, and here the flower of our nation has also perished. Regardless of the differences, the intellectual class of those on the plane was truly great.”

The flag at the presidential palace in Warsaw was lowered as a crowd gathered, laying down flowers and lighting candles. According to Poland’s constitution, the leader of the lower house of parliament — now acting president — has 14 days to announce new elections, which must then take place within 60 days.

The plane was a Tupolev Tu-154, designed by the Soviets in the mid-1960s. Russia halted mass production of the jet roughly 20 years ago, and roughly 200 of them are still in service around the world, said Paul Hayes, director of accidents and insurance at Ascend, an aviation consultancy in London. He said the Polish president jet is one of the youngest of them.

Officials in Poland have repeatedly requested that the government’s aging air fleet be replaced.

Former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who survived a helicopter crash in 2003, told Polish news he had long predicted such a disaster. “I once said that we will one day meet in a funeral procession, and that is when we will take the decision to replace the aircraft fleet,” he said.

A press secretary for Mr. Antufiyev, the governor of Smolensk, said the landing took place under very bad visibility, and Russian air traffic controllers advised the crew to land in Minsk, but the crew decided to land anyway. The Polish news channel TVN24 reported that moments before the crash, air traffic controllers had refused a Russian military aircraft permission to land, but that they could not refuse permission to the Polish plane.

The crash site was cordoned off, but Russian media reported that the airplane’s crew made several attempts to land before a wing hit the treetops and the plane crashed about half a mile from the runway. Correspondents reporting from the scene said the plane’s explosion was so powerful that fragments of it were scattered as far as the outskirts of Smolensk, more than a mile from the crash site itself.

For Poland, the losses raise the question of how a country of 38 million can replace a whole political class. Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski – one of the highest-ranking Polish leaders not on board the plane – told Poland’s Radio Zet that he was the one to inform Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who “was in tears when he heard about the catastrophe.”

Among those on board, according to theWeb site of the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, were Mr. Kaczynski; his wife, Maria; former Polish president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski; the deputy speaker of Poland’s parliament, Jerzy Szmajdzinski; the head of the president’s chancellery, Wladyslaw Stasiak; the head of the National Security Bureau, Aleksander Szczyglo; the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Andrzej Kremer; the chief of the general staff of the Polish army, Franciszek Gagor; the president of Poland’s national bank, Slawomir Skrzypek; the commissioner for civil rights protection, Janusz Kochanowski; the heads of all of Poland’s armed forces; and dozens of members of parliament.

A spokesman for Poland’s ministry of foreign affairs said 88 people were on the plane. Russian emergency officials said the total number killed, including crew members, was 96.

Mr. Kaczysnki, 61, was elected president in 2005 just as his identical twin brother, Jaroslaw, became head of the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice government, often putting Poland on a collision course with Russia. Mr. Kaczynski forged close relationships with Ukraine and Georgia and pushed for their accession into NATO, arguing passionately that a stronger NATO would keep Russia from reasserting its influence over Eastern Europe.

The president’s death on Russian soil is bound to open old wounds in the relationship between Russia and Poland.

He had been due in western Russia to commemorate the anniversary of the murder of thousands of Polish officers by the Soviet Union at the beginning of World War II.

The ceremonies were to be held at a site in the Katyn forest close to Smolensk, where 70 years ago members of the Soviet secret police executed more than 20,000 Polish officers captured after the Soviet Army invaded Poland in 1939.

The two countries had been making strides in recent months to improve their ties, which had been strained since the days of communism, when Poland was a Soviet satellite. After the collapse of communism, its leaders embraced the West and snubbed Russia.

The Katyn massacre was one point of tension. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin took a major step to address improve relations by becoming the first Russian or Soviet leader to join Polish officials in commemorating the anniversary. He was joined there by Mr. Tusk.

At the ceremony, Mr. Putin cast the executions as one of many crimes carried out by the “totalitarian regime” of the Soviet Union.

“We bow our heads to those who bravely met death here,” he said. “In this ground lay Soviet citizens, burnt in the fire of the Stalinist repression of the 1930s; Polish officers, shot on secret orders; soldiers of the Red Army, executed by the Nazis.”

Mr. Kaczynski, who is seen by the Kremlin as less friendly to Russia, was not invited to the joint Russian-Polish ceremony on Wednesday. Instead, Mr. Kaczynski decided to attend a separate, Polish-organized event in Katyn on Saturday.

Michal Piotrowski reported from Warsaw, Ellen Barry from Moscow and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin. Clifford J. Levy and Viktor Klimenko contributed reporting from Moscow and Nicola Clark from London.


President of Poland Killed in Plane Crash in Russia - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD

Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lech Kaczynski















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