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Council of Europe parliamentarians to debate Smolensk plane crash

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 09.10.2018 12:33
The 2010 Polish presidential plane crash in Smolensk, western Russia, is to be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Friday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency said on Tuesday.
The site of the Polish presidential plane crash in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsThe site of the Polish presidential plane crash in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The parliamentary assmebly is also expected to vote on a resolution urging Russia to return the plane and other evidence to Poland.

The resolution refers to the Chicago Convention, which says evidence should be handed over after an investigation is complete. The Council of Europe has noted that Russian published its report into the crash in January 2011.

Meanwhile, Russia has refused to return the wreck to Poland, claiming that it is continuing to investigate the crash. The wreck remains on the tarmac of the Smolensk military airport.

“The continuing refusal of the Russian authorities to [return the wreckage] is an abuse of rights, fuelling speculation that Russia has something to hide,” the Council of Europe said on its website.

On 10 April 2010, a Polish plane carrying then-President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and 94 others – mostly political and military top brass – crashed while trying to land at a military airport in Smolensk.

A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.

A Polish report issued by the previous Polish government cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.

But the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczyński, has long challenged official reports into the crash.

According to a commission set up Law and Justice to investigate the crash, the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as the presidential plane was approaching the runway.

The plane was taking Polish delegates to an event near Smolensk to commemorate the Katyn Massacre of 1940, a Soviet campaign to eliminate Poland’s military elites and intelligentsia which started with some 4,000 executions in Katyń and ultimately saw some 22,000 Poles killed with a shot in the back to the head.

The massacre was officially kept under wraps by Moscow until 1990.

The Council of Europe is a human rights organisation. Its parliamentary arm counts 648 representatives of parliaments from the council’s member states. (vb/pk)

Source: IAR

tags: Smolensk
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