The 2010 Smoleńsk Air Disaster

27 May 2018

Poland hit world headlines on April 10th, 2010 when a government plane carrying President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and ninety-four other passengers crashed by the Russian city of Smoleńsk immediately killing all on board. Attempting to land at a former military airbase in heavy fog, the plane missed the runway, struck trees in its descent, flipped over and plunged to the ground in the middle of the forest. The president and his diplomatic entourage had been flying in to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyń Massacre, a notorious episode in which Stalin ordered the execution of approximately 22,000 Polish military officers. For decades Russia had denied responsibility (blaming the Nazis instead), and only recently had official diplomatic steps been taken to mend bridges.

Surprisingly, the tragedy initially served to bring these two ancient political foes closer together, as many Poles were impressed by the sympathetic reaction of Putin's government at the time of the catastrophe. As with all high profile disasters, however, speculation as to the cause continues to be rife today. The official Russian air authority report into the incident laid the blame squarely on the pilots who they claim ignored instructions to land elsewhere because of the poor visibility and weather conditions. They also suggested the presence and distraction of unauthorised personnel in the cockpit as the key to the tragedy. At first this had been thought to have been the president himself – a man who once notoriously insisted his pilots fly against their judgement and land in war torn Tbilisi – though black box evidence now points to the intrusion at members of his entourage.


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Over a year ago
It's February 2015 now and the wreck of the plane as well as original black boxes still remain in Russian hands! Russia declines returning them to Poland. The wreck was demolished by Russians and never had been properly investigated by independent authorities or bodies. Polish weak government stays silent, the rest of Europe and the world already have forgotten.
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