The monument, in a central square in Warsaw, aimed to collectively honour the victims of the fatal 2010 Polish presidential plane crash in Russia, a disaster that scarred the national psyche and continues to elicit bitter emotions eight years later.
Tuesday’s ceremonies at the Polish capital’s Piłsudski Square were also expected to see the unveiling of a foundation stone at a site where a separate monument commemorating the late President Lech Kaczyński would be erected at a later time.
Tuesday marked exactly eight years since a Polish plane carrying President Kaczyński, his wife and 94 others – including top political and military figures – crashed near Smolensk, western Russia, killing all those on board.
Jarosław Kaczyński, the twin brother of the late president and the leader of the country’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and senior ministers took part in a ceremony in front of the presidential palace in Warsaw during which the names of the crash victims were read out.
On Monday, officials unveiled a plaque in Poland’s parliament to commemorate the late President Lech Kaczyński.
Reinvestigation in progress
The ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, of which Jarosław Kaczyński is head, has long challenged an official report into the 2010 crash issued by Poland’s previous government, which 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.
A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.
PiS has launched its own inquiry into the crash which, in initial findings, suggested the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion, and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled the Polish pilots about their location as the presidential plane approached the runway of the Smolensk military airport in 2010.
In mid-December last year, Poland's defence minister at the time, Antoni Macierewicz, said that Russia was responsible for the plane crash. He also said that the Polish presidential plane, which crashed near the western Russian city of Smolensk, was destroyed by "two explosions."
In January, the new team of investigators appointed by Macierewicz said that the jet’s left wing was destroyed as a result of an explosion on board.
The commission said that the explosion had “several sources” on the plane.
Macierewicz, who now heads the commission himself, said on Saturday that a report showing evidence of an explosion on board the Polish presidential Tu-154 plane would be presented "soon."
Source: IAR, PAP