New Accusations in Smolensk Investigation

In July, Antoni Macierewicz and various parliamentary representatives of the PiS party decided to undertake their own, fairly controversial, investigation into the tragic plane crash in Smolensk that killed all 96 passengers onboard on 10 April, including President Lech Kaczyński. According to this morning’s Polish media reports, Macierewicz has made statements blaming the heads of various Polish government offices, including Tomasz Arabski of the prime minister’s office, Minister of Defence Bogdan Klich, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, and the supervisor of the Government Protection Bureau, who is also the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Jerzy Miller,for poorly coordinating the security of the passengers aboard the flight that ended so tragically.

Macierewicz criticised the decision of the Civic Platform government administration to arrange a separate visit for Prime Minister Donald Tusk with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 7 April. Macierewicz claims that only the visit of Prime Minister Tusk was provided with full security and carefully prepared, but that the official visit of the president was marginalised and treated as if it was a private affair. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the representative of PiS avoided speaking about the fact that the offices of the president and prime minister were not able to come to an agreement regarding the two visits and that the rules of diplomacy dictate that the prime minister of Russia should be met by his counterpart in Poland, not by the president. He also did not mention the key role of the office of the president in planning the flight and completing the list of passengers.

In his statements, Macierewicz went on to chastise Klich for failing to purchase a new fleet of aircraft to be used for the most important officials in Poland. According to PAP, Macierewicz claimed that Klich had the possibility to purchase a safe fleet, but chose instead to send the VIPs on an aircraft which ranked low in safety and was expensive to operate. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, he did not mention that the auctioning of government aircraft had been blocked by the predecessor of Klich, Aleksander Szczygło, who headed the department during the PiS administration and was killed in the crash.

Macierewicz also pointed to the fact that Arabski approved the Tu-154 to fly the presidential delegation five months after it had undergone general repairs in a plant located in Samara, Russia, which belongs to Oleg Deripaski, a friend of Vladimir Putin. According to the PAP, Macierewicz went on to question why a plant was chosen, “which had not ever repaired a Tu-154M.” Sources at Gazeta Wyborcza, however, claim that Samara is considered the only place equipped to repair that specific type of aircraft.

Among Macierewicz’s other accusations, he alluded to the fact that Polish officials neglected to heed warnings long before the ceremony in Katyń was to take place that the Russians could not fully guarantee the safe landing of a massive piece of machinery in the infrequently used Smolensk North Airport. He claimed that the Polish government knew that preparing the airbase in Smolensk was problematic and postponed the visit of a special group, which was to check on the condition of the airbase, several times. “On 23 March 2010, the Russian ambassador to Poland, Vladimir Grinin, warned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was not certain whether the airbase in Smolensk would be ready to receive the president. This required that the visit be carefully and diligently prepared. The information received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was delivered to the Office of the President on 12 April 2010,” Macierewicz stated to PAP.

Today the chief military prosecutor, General Krzysztof Parulski, is flying to Moscow to talk about exchanging documents related to the catastrophe. Last month, the Polish prosecutors did not receive many of the expected materials from Russia, bringing the official Polish investigation to a standstill.

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