Developments at the Smolensk Crash Site

As the six-month anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy approaches on 10 October, families of the deceased are planning to make a pilgrimage to the crash site. In preparation, a fence and a shelter around the area of the wreckage is to be built before the arrival of the families.

The issue of the protection of the crash site was originally brought up by the Polish media when it was reported that the crash site had been left uncovered and open to the elements, despite Russian promises to the contrary. On 20 September, a video appeared on YouTube showing the uncovered wreckage. To confirm these reports, Polish journalists attempted to travel to the site of the wreckage.

Last Friday, three Polish journalists were detained by the Russian Army after being caught near the site. According to Russian reports, they had twice entered “no trespassing zones” at the crash site, although the Polish journalists insisted they had seen no signs indicating such restrictions. The reporters were taken to a military facility and questioned by Russian authorities before being released on Saturday. The three journalists were from different national media outlets, including news channel TVN24, broadcaster TVN, and radio station RMF FM.

The pilgrimage is still planned for 10 October, though yesterday the late President Lech Kaczyński’s twin brother and PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński told reporters: “I will not go to Smolensk. On this day, I will take part in a mourning service in Poland.” Kaczyński has been openly critical of the investigation into the plane crash that killed his brother, even urging Prime Minister Tusk and President Komorowski to step down after their handling of the investigation last month.

Meanwhile, Polish archaeologists will begin conducting excavations at the crash site on 13 October, to search for any remains of the crashed TU-154 or its 96 victims in the area. They will be assisted by Russian archaeologists and geodesists.

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