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Body of Polish President Is Flown Back to Warsaw  

2010-04-12 00:14:42|  分类: 历史与文化 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Body of Polish President Is Flown Back to Warsaw - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD

Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski of Poland, walked next to the coffin at the airport in Warsaw on Sunday. More Photos »

By NICHOLAS KULISH and CLIFFORD J. LEVY

Published: April 11, 2010

WARSAW — With the country in mourning, the body of Poland’s president was returned to this traumatized capital on Sunday, a day after he and dozens of top Polish political and military leaders died in a plane crash in western Russia.

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Russian soldiers carried the coffin of President Lech Kaczynski of Poland during a farewell ceremony at the airport of Smolensk on Sunday. More Photos »

Russian and Polish investigators began Sunday to analyze evidence from the flight recorders in the crash, which killed 96 people when the presidential plane went down about a half mile from the runway in the Russian city of Smolensk. The Polish delegation was on its way to take part in a ceremony there to commemorate the Soviet massacre of more than 20,000 members of Poland’s elite officer corps 70 years ago.

In Warsaw, senior Polish officials sought to reassure the public that the government would continue to function normally despite the tremendous loss.

The crash killed the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, many of his top staff members, more than a dozen members of the Parliament and leaders of the military. A new interim head of the central bank was named on Sunday, and new acting chiefs of the military services were already in place the day of the accident.

After the plane carrying Mr. Kaczynski’s body landed Sunday afternoon, his daughter, Marta, whose mother was also killed in the crash, kneeled before the coffin, resting her forehead on it. She was followed by her uncle, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former prime minister and the president’s twin brother, who appeared to be whispering as he leaned close, the coffin flanked by an honor guard holding sabers.

Top government officials including Prime Minister Donald Tusk also paid their respects, before Mr. Kaczynski’s remains were driven in a dark hearse with police escort to the Presidential Palace, past mourners lining the streets along the way.

Prosecutors, forensic pathologists and crash investigators were working with their Russian counterparts both in Smolensk and Moscow, Polish and Russian officials said.

Pawel Gras, a Polish government spokesman, praised the cooperation with the Russian authorities on Sunday, and tried to calm Polish concerns that decisions about the investigation were being made without Polish involvement.

“Just to clear up information that has surfaced in the media, the Russian side did not open the black boxes but waited for the arrival of Polish experts,” Mr. Gras said at a news conference in Warsaw.

Russian officials said Saturday that air traffic controllers at the Smolensk airport had several times ordered the crew of the presidential plane not to land because of bad weather, warned that it was descending below the glide path and recommended it reroute to another airport.

On Sunday, Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, chief of the prosecutor general’s investigation committee in Russia, told Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin that investigators had so far not discovered any evidence of a technical malfunction in the plane’s operations.

“The pilot was informed of severe weather conditions, but nonetheless made a decision to land,” Mr. Bastrykin said.

Mr. Putin went to Smolensk on Sunday for a ceremony to return Mr. Kaczynski’s body to Poland. Russian soldiers wearing red and black armbands carried his coffin, while a band played the Polish and Russian national anthems.

Mr. Putin and the Polish ambassador to Russia laid bouquets of red flowers beside the coffin as the red and white Polish flag covering it fluttered in a stiff breeze. An honor guard made up of Polish members of the army, air force and navy carried the coffin onto the military transport plane back to Warsaw.

In Warsaw, church bells rang and police and air-raid sirens sounded at noon, while cars and trams on the Slasko-Dabrowski Bridge over the Vistula River came to a halt and thousands of mourners in front of the Presidential Palace bowed their heads to observe a moment of silence. Leading members of the government, including Mr. Tusk, laid candles in front of the Parliament building before a gathering of all members of Parliament and their staff.

Late Saturday night, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski flew to Smolensk to identify the president’s body. The remains of many other passengers on the flight were being brought to Moscow, where relatives would be asked to identify them, officials said.

Officials said 24 bodies had already been identified. The Moscow mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, said a trauma center would be set up to assist the relatives.

Across Poland, people gathered Sunday at churches for memorial services for those who died. Television stations showed somber coverage of the crash and its aftermath around the clock, ranging from testimonials about the victims to analyses by air-safety experts.

Body of Polish President Is Flown Back to Warsaw - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD

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Body of Polish President Is Flown Back to Warsaw - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD Photographs

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Lech Kaczynski More Photos »

Among those killed were Poland’s deputy foreign minister, the chiefs of the army and the navy and the president of the national bank. The other passengers included Anna Walentynowicz, 80, the former dock worker whose firing in 1980 set off the Solidarity strike that ultimately overthrew Polish Communism, as well as relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre.

The repercussions on Poland’s coming presidential elections were not clear. The Law and Justice Party lost numerous important leaders in addition to the president, including its parliamentary leader. Mr. Kaczynski had been trailing far behind his opponent in the polls, but the outpouring of sympathy from the mourning public might benefit his party in the moved-up presidential election.

Under 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 crash is not likely to substantially change Poland’s relationships with other countries, including its plans to host part of an American missile defense system.

Relations between Moscow and Warsaw had long been strained, but Mr. Putin had taken a major step toward improving them by joining Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, to commemorate the massacre’s anniversary last week. Mr. Putin was the first Russian or Soviet leader to do so.

Mr. Kaczynski, 60, was a pugnacious nationalist who often clashed with Russia. He was not invited to the Russian-Polish ceremony on Wednesday at Katyn. Instead, he decided to attend a separate, Polish-organized event on Saturday.

The plane that crashed was a 20-year-old Tupolev Tu-154, designed by the Soviets in the mid-1960s and operated by the Polish Air Force.

Russia halted mass production of the jet about 20 years ago, and about 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 presidential jet was one of the youngest of them.

A spokesman for Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 88 passengers and eight crew members were on the plane.

Mr. Kaczynski was elected president in 2005 just as his brother, Jaroslaw, became head of the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice government. He 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.

He was a major supporter of plans for part of an American antiballistic missile defense system to be based in Poland, infuriating Russia. Although that proposal by President George W. Bush was scaled back by President Obama, Polish officials have said they still plan to host American surface-to-air missiles in northern Poland.

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