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Polish report Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-08-08 08:30:04
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Former deputy prime minister dies

Poland's former deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper was found dead in his apartment in the capital, Warsaw, on Thursday, his party said in a statement. Lepper, 57, who headed Poland's populist Self-Defence Party, served as deputy prime minister from 2006 to 2007, as part of a coalition government led by the Law and Justice Party. He also served as agriculture minister.

His party paid tribute to a "distinguished politician, statesman" who had founded and led the party and Trade Union of Farmers' Self Defence. He first rose to national prominence in the 1990s, when he helped organize mass protests by farmers over a lack of state help for those affected by a disastrous drought, his party's website says, forming the trade union and then the party.

The party statement said he had left its members "suddenly, leaving a better world of truth and love, as a true Catholic who believed sincerely and warmly." His legacy was a vision of a more just world, the party said. Lepper's "third way" politics called for a different approach to capitalism, through "a social-economic system that would effectively combine freedom of enterprise with social responsibilities of the state," according to the party's website.


Poland fires military officials over 2010 Crash

The prime minister of Poland dismissed more than a dozen top air force officers and Defence Ministry officials on Thursday after an Interior Ministry report on a devastating plane crash said that poor crew training, lax safety regulations and unprofessionalism were to blame. The April 2010 crash, at the Smolensk airport in Russia, killed the president of Poland, his wife and 94 other people, many of them top officials of the Polish government. The dismissals followed the departure of the defense minister, Bogdan Klich, who resigned immediately after the report was released last week. His deputy, Gen. Czeslaw Piatas, was one of the officials fired on Thursday.

“These are the first steps,” the prime minister, Donald Tusk, said in announcing the dismissals at a news conference on Thursday. “They will be difficult, but I believe the Polish military needs them.” He did not say whether there would be further firings. The fired air force officers, including three generals, were responsible for pilot training. Tomasz Siemoniak, who replaced Mr. Klich as defense minister, said at the news conference that the air force unit responsible for transporting top officials, Special Regiment 36, was being disbanded. Mr. Tusk said that the national commercial airline, LOT, would take over responsibility for official flights from the military.

Analysts said that Mr. Tusk was determined to assert control over the armed services. “The military were told to introduce safety measures two years ago, after senior officers were killed in a crash, but they did not do it,” said Eugeniusz Smolar, a senior fellow at the Polish Institute of International Relations in Warsaw. “This is about the civilian side exerting authority over the military.”


Russia dismisses key elements of Poland's Kaczynski crash report

Russian investigators have rejected some of the key findings of a Polish report into the crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in April 2010. A Tu-154 plane carrying Kaczynski, his wife and a host of top officials crashed in heavy fog as it attempted to land at an airfield near the western Russian city of Smolensk. The delegation was flying to Smolensk to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police. All 96 people on board the plane died.

Both Poland and Russia have carried out investigations into the crash, and the probe has seen a rise in the tensions that briefly subsided in the aftermath of the tragedy. Poland released its final report on the crash last Friday. Russian investigators from the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) dismissed the report's assertion that the presence of Poland's air force chief in the cockpit as it tried to land was not a source of pressure on the crew. It also said Russian air traffic controllers could not be blamed for the crash. The head of MAK’s technical committee investigating the crash, Alexei Morozov, said that air force chief Andrez Blasik had said the pilot would be in trouble if the aircraft did not attempt a landing at Smolensk, and had taken on a controlling role in the flight.

“This may, and must, be assessed as psychological pressure,” Morozov said, adding that flight recordings indicated the pilot knew he would be punished if he did not try to land. MAK also said that the lighting and radar equipment at the Smolensk airport were suitable for accepting flights of all types of aircraft, including the Tu-154. It also questioned the wisdom of members of the Polish team that looked into the crash also being involved in the parallel criminal investigation. MAK said, however, that it agreed with the Polish report’s findings that the main cause of the accident was the crew’s decision to press on with the approach and not overshoot at the correct height.

The main cause of the crash was the crew’s failure to decide to overshoot and make a second approach, Morozov said. “They needed to have taken the correct decision [to go round] at a hundred meters altitude,” he said. Morozov said the crew had taken the "wrong decisions."  Whatever shortcomings the Smolensk-Severny airport had could not have been a factor in the crash, MAK said. “The Smolensk-Severny airport had a valid operating license issued by the relevant Russian authorities,” Morozov said. Contrary to the Polish report, it was not run on a temporary basis, he stressed. MAK said Russian air traffic controllers could not be blamed for the crash.

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