Polish President Lech Kaczynski died in the Smolensk plane crash ten years ago. Poland and Russia continue to argue over the release of the remains of the accident machine.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the head of the PiS governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, have commemorated the victims of the Smolensk air disaster. In the crash on April 10, 2010, the then Polish President Lech Kaczynski, twin brother of the PiS boss, also died. The Warsaw Ministry of Foreign Affairs renewed its anniversary call to Moscow to hand over the plane wreck to Poland.
The celebration of the memorial to the victims of the catastrophe on Pilsudski Square in Warsaw took place without an audience due to the Corona epidemic. Initially, the Polish government planned to travel to Smolensk, Russia with a delegation on April 10. But the trip was postponed to a later date. The Poles cited the slow cooperation with the Russian authorities as the reason. Russia described the Polish side as “ungrateful”.
The cause of the accident is still unclear
96 people were killed in the crash of the Polish government plane on landing in thick fog on the Russian Smolensk. They were on their way to a memorial service for the victims of the Katyn massacre. In 1940 members of the Soviet secret service NKVD murdered thousands of Polish officers.
Investigations into the cause of the aircraft disaster are ongoing. PiS supporters still speak of a murder attack on Kaczynski. Investigations so far submitted by the Polish Ministry of the Interior and the Russian investigators assume a pilot error. The crew did not respond to early warnings and continued to fly despite poor visibility. “The pilot should have made the decision to head to another airport, but that was not the case,” said Svetlana Petrenko of the State Investigation Committee in Russia to the Interfax agency. Experts from both countries have refuted the theory of possible explosives traces with numerous forensic investigations.
Poland demands surrender of the wreck
Poland again asked for the wreck to be released on the 10th anniversary. A corresponding diplomatic note was addressed to Moscow, said the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw. “No standard of international law is the basis for Russia keeping Poland’s property.”
In October 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had already asked Russia to return the wreck to Poland. According to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the country in which the disaster occurred must hand over the remains of the aircraft once the technical investigation into the cause of the accident has been completed. However, Russia has so far argued that a criminal trial to the crash is still ongoing. The fragments of the wreck served as evidence and therefore could not be released.