Niedziela, 20 stycznia 2019    Fabioli, Miły, Sebastiana  
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Relations Poland-Russia Go Sour By Raymond Rolak

ostatnia aktualizacja 11-21-2015, 09:42

Poland will sue Russia in a human rights court over Moscow's withholding of the wreckage of a Polish jet that crashed in thick fog over Russia killing the Polish president in 2010, the country's foreign minister-designate said. “We will be suing the Russian investigation in Strasbourg for dragging its feet,” Witold Waszczykowski told a TVN24 broadcast in Poland. He was referring to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.

Relations Poland-Russia Go Sour

Russia has so far declined to return wreckage, arguing it first needed to conclude its own inquiry. The decision by a new more nationalist Polish government to press the matter could add to tensions already stirred by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and subsequent EU sanctions against Moscow.

“We will sue Russia in arbitration tribunals over withholding Polish property ... so that we get Russia convicted and ordered to give us back the property,” he said.

A Polish government investigation blamed pilot error and the airport crew for the April 10, 2010 crash.

The crash, in Smolensk, western Russia, killed 96 people, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the central bank governor, top army commanders and other high-ranking officials. Kaczynski’s identical twin brother, Jaroslaw, now heads the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won an outright majority in both chambers of parliament in an October election.

Poland’s national defense minister-designate Antoni Macierewicz believes an explosion caused the 2010 presidential jet crash.

On April 7, 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a ceremony commemorating the massacre, marking the first time that a Russian leader had taken part in such a commemoration. Three days later, on April 10, a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski to another commemoration ceremony, crashed near Smolensk and the Katyn site. Killed were Kaczynski his entourage. Those included were his wife, the head of the national security bureau, the president of the national bank, the army chief of staff, clergy, relatives of Katyn victims, and a number of other Polish government officials.

In November 2010 the State Duma (the lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly) officially declared that Joseph Stalin and other Soviet leaders were responsible for ordering the execution of the Polish officers at Katyn.

Russia has so far declined to return wreckage, arguing it first needed to conclude its own inquiry. The official investigation by the Polish authorities found serious deficiencies in the organization and training of the Air Force unit involved, which was subsequently disbanded. Several high-ranking members of the Polish military resigned, under pressure from politicians and the media.

The decision by a new more nationalist Polish government to press the matter could add to tensions already stirred by Russia's annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and subsequent EU sanctions against Moscow.

In February 1945, the Polish Government Delegation of the Government-in-Exile, including most members of the Council of National Unity and the Home Army Commander-in-Chief, were invited by Soviet General Ivan Sierov to a conference on their eventual inclusion in the Soviet-backed Provisional Government. They were promised safe conduct beforehand but immediately arrested by the NKVD, and brought to Moscow, where they were brutally tortured for several months and tried in a staged ‘Trial of the Sixteen’. All perished except the one Minister that refused to go.

The Smolensk airport was fogged in, but the airport had not been declared as closed. As the TU-154 approached the airport, the tower suggested the pilot divert to Moscow. This is standard practice by both military and civilian flights around the world. The pilot responded that he would make one attempt to land, but if that failed, he would fly on to another, clear airport. At the outer marker, two kilometers from the runway, the airplane was on track. At the inner marker, one kilometer from the runway, the plane was suddenly 40 to 60 meters to the left of the centerline and 2.5 meters above the ground, below the glide path, and traveling 280 K/hr, with throttles applied (for a go-around) at the time of the crash. The aircraft’s reported speed of 280 K/hr has to be an error. This is twice the speed of a normal landing approach. At this point the pilot applied full power to abort the landing attempt, but it was too late. The plane struck a birch tree, flipped over, and crashed well short of the runway. It was also announced that there were two other people in the cockpit during the approach, a Polish Air Force general, the pilot’s boss, who probably urged the pilot to try to land, and an unidentified woman observer.

The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, had flown into Smolensk three days before the crash—but he arranged to have his own portable landing system brought in, probably a GCA radar (Ground Controlled Approach radar) which can talk the pilot to a safe landing in bad weather. Putin was former Director of the KGB and probably didn’t trust the Smolensk equipment. He departed after 3 or 4 hours. Forty minutes before the crash, a Russian YAK-40 airplane with 40 people on board landed safely. Twenty minutes before the crash a Russian AWAC airplane did a touch-and-go at the airport then flew on to Moscow.

As for the investigation, the Russians have kept all the airplane’s black boxes and refuse to release or comment on their findings, except to say it could be a year before any results are announced. It could indeed take a long time. Putin’s ‘commission’ investigating the crash needs time for memories to fade.

This is reminiscent of the Soviet practice of manipulating navigational beacons to lure American military planes into Soviet territory to be shot down, “for violating sacred Soviet airspace.”

They thought nothing of shooting down Korean Air, Boeing 747, knowing it held several hundred civilian passengers. The Russian solution now is to make it go away quickly – as quickly as that ill-fated commemoration. So what if it’s another hundred in a crash to get rid of those pesky Poles and their temerity at seeking, to rub in the face of Russia with some sordid account of a wartime massacre? And it could it be payback for Poland’s alliance with NATO.

Gene Poteat, a retired CIA scientific intelligence officer said, “There is an old KGB saying,” – “It is no accident, Comrade!”

(Re-printed with permission of the Post-Eagle)


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