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Polish report Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2010-04-13 07:59:50
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Investigators say no problems with Polish plane

Russian investigators said there were no technical problems with the Soviet-made plane that crashed and killed the Polish president and 95 others over the weekend, suggesting pilot error may have been to blame. The Tu-154 went down while trying to land Saturday in dense fog near Smolensk airport in western Russia. All 96 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious leaders. They had been traveling in the government-owned plane to attend a memorial at nearby Katyn forest honoring thousands of Polish military officers who were executed 70 years ago by Josef Stalin's secret police.

The pilot had been warned of bad weather in Smolensk, and was advised by traffic controllers to land elsewhere -- which would have delayed the Katyn observances. Russian investigators have almost finished reading the flight recorders, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Bastrykin said. "The readings confirm that there were no problems with the plane, and that the pilot was informed about the difficult weather conditions, but nevertheless decided to land," Bastrykin said during a briefing with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Smolensk. Bastrykin said the readings would be double checked, according to footage of the meeting broadcast Monday on Poland's TVN24.

The wreckage, meanwhile, will remain on site through midweek to help speed the investigation, Russian Deputy Transport Minister Igor Levitin said. Both Russia and Ukraine declared a day of mourning Monday, as Poles struggled to come to terms with the national tragedy that eliminated so many of their government and military leaders.


Funeral plans for Polish president

The Polish government is expected to announce details of President Kaczynski's funeral arrangements.The president, with his wife and other government staff members, died in a plane crash on Saturday. The pavement in front of President Kaczynski's palace in central Warsaw has nearly disappeared from sight, covered now with thousands of small glass pots containing candles laid as a mark of respect. The president's body has been brought back from Russia and is due to lie in state later today. More details of the funeral arrangements are expected over the next day or so.

Poland's health minister has said that only 14 of the 96 victims of Saturday's air crash in Russia are identifiable. Crash investigators say data from the flight recorders appear to show there was no technical fault on the plane, suggesting pilot error may have been a factor in the crash. Among those to have died was the president's wife, Maria. There's no precedent for a dual funeral involving a head of state and his first lady, so it's unclear if they will have a joint or separate ceremony.

Poland's top military leadership was among those who lost their lives, though their first deputies have taken over any immediate duties meaning that the country's armed forces are operating normally. Many other national institutions cannot yet say that, after a disaster that removed a vast cross-section of the country's public servants.


Polish culture in mourning

Poland’s artists have reacted to the news of the plane crash near Smolensk in which the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski was killed by cancelling all public appearances. Performances and concerts have been called off and major galleries are closed for the time of national mourning to last all week. The organizers of the Warsaw Theatre Meetings which were scheduled for April 11-27 have decided to call off the entire festival. All performances which were to take place between April 10 and 19 were cancelled.

All major galleries are also closed for the time of mourning. The most recently opened Polish cultural institutions – the Frederic Chopin Museum in Warsaw will be closed during the next 7 days. Jazz and entertainment music concerts, including the performance of the legendary Jim Hall at the national Philharmonic, were cancelled. Cinemas across Poland are also closed. MP

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