tragedy The devastated remains of the Presidential Aircraft

updated: 19 April, 2010

Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other people were killed Saturday, 10th April, when their government plane crashed in heavy fog near Smolensk, Russia.

The group was planning to attend a commemoration of the WWII Katyń massacre near Smolensk.

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Polish President Kaczynski dies in plane crash

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Those aboard included the official delegation of 88 people and eight crew members, according to a foreign ministry spokesman.

The president’s wife, Maria, and many prominent Polish political and business leaders were also aboard.

Bronisław Komorowski, the speaker of the Sejm, is the acting president. Prime Minister Donald Tusk is leading the government and is cooperating with Russia in the investigation.

The plane was a Tupolev Tu-154M. It is a Soviet-era airplane, designed to fly to airports in rugged and difficult to reach areas. The president’s plane is thought to have clipped trees on a landing attempt in heavy fog and crashed. The so-called “black box” was recovered and sent to Moscow as part of the investigation. Video from the scene shortly after the crash showed firefighters battling fires and rescuers walking the scene as broken and blackened metal from the hull is clearly visible, though most of the plane appears to have been destroyed.

The Polish foreign ministry and the governor of the Smolensk region said no one survived the crash. Authorities in Russia, under the direction of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, are investigating.

Lech Kaczyński was 60. He was born on 18 June, 1949, in Warsaw. He was elected president in 2005 and faced a challenge in upcoming elections. Elections are now scheduled to take place in June. One other presidential candidate beside President Kaczyński was aboard. Komorowski has said a new slate of candidates will be announced after the mourning period ends 18th April.

The family of the late president and his wife have asked that the presidential couple be interred in the famous Wawel Cathedral and the archbishop of the area has agreed, despite protests.

A week-long mourning period began Sunday, 11 April, with flags at half-staff, many with a black ribbon attached. Mourners left flowers and candles at the presidential palace in Warsaw, Polish embassies throughout the world and in various sites throughout Poland. As well, many signed books of condolences in missions throughout the world. In Krakow, a special mass at Wawel Castle drew tens of thousands on Saturday, 10th April, the day of the crash.

In the week that followed, throngs of people greeted the return of the bodies of his president and his wife to Warsaw and paid their respects at the presidential palace. The mourning period was extended midweek by one day to end at 9 p.m., Sunday 18th April, after the funeral for the president and his wife in Krakow.

In Warsaw, a special mass and memorial services were held on Saturday. Prohibition on alcohol sales was declared for Saturday in Warsaw and Sunday in Krakow. Most places in central Krakow were closed. Traffic was blocked and rerouted because of security concerns. About 150,000 people gathered in central Krakow for the memorial mass and procession to Wawel Cathedral. During the night that followed the interment, thousands passed through the crypt to pay final respects to the president, his wife and the memory of those who died on 10th April and the victims of Katyn.


Video:

CNN: Interview with Krakow Post



In Memoriam:

  • Lech Kaczyński, Polish President
  • Maria Kaczyńska, wife of the Polish President
  • Ryszard Kaczorowski, former President of Poland in exile
  • Joanna Agacka-Indecka, President of the Supreme Bar Council
  • Ewa Bąkowska, granddaughter of Brig. Gen. Mieczyslaw Smorawinski
  • Andrzej Błasik, Commander of the Polish Air Force
  • Krystyna Bochenek, Senate deputy
  • Anna Maria Borowska, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Bartosz Borowski, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Tadeusz Buk, Commander of the Land Forces of Poland
  • Miron Chodakowski, Orthodox Chaplain – Polish Army
  • Czesław Cywiński, President of the World Association of Home Army
  • Leszek Deptuła, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PSL)
  • Zbigniew Dębski, a member of the Chapter of the Order of Military Virtutti
  • Grzegorz Dolniak, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PO)
  • Katarzyna Doraczyńska, Office of the President – press office
  • Edward Duchnowski, Secretary General of the Survivor’s Union
  • Aleksander Fedorowicz, Russian translator
  • Janina Fetlińska, senator
  • Jarosław Florczak, officer in the presidential guard
  • Artur Francuz, officer in the presidential guard
  • Franciszek Gągor, Head of the Polish Army’s General Staff
  • Grażyna Gęsicka, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PIS)
  • Kazimierz Gilarski, Commander of the Warsaw Garrison
  • Przemysław Gosiewski, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PiS )
  • Bronisław Gostomski, Fr. Monsignor
  • Robert Grzywna, flight crew
  • Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State in the President’s Chancellery
  • Roman Indrzejczyk, Chaplain to the President of the Republic
  • Paweł Janeczek, officer in the presidential guard
  • Dariusz Jankowski, Office of the President of Poland
  • Natalia Januszko, stewardess
  • Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, a representative of the Polish Parliament (SLD)
  • Józef Joniec, President of the Association Parafiada
  • Sebastian Karpiniuk, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PO)
  • Andrzej Karweta, Commander of the Polish Navy
  • Mariusz Kazana, Director of the MFA Diplomatic Protocol
  • Mariusz Kazana, Ombudsman
  • Stanisław Komornicki, representative of the Chapter of the Order of Military Virtutti
  • Stanisław Jerzy Komorowski, Defense Deputy
  • Paweł Krajewski, officer in the presidential guard
  • Andrzej Kremer, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Zdzisław Król, Chaplain of the Warsaw Katyn Families 1987-2007
  • Janusz Krupski, Director of the Office for War Veterans and Repressed Persons
  • Janusz Kurtyka, President of the Institute of National Remembrance
  • Andrzej Kwaśnik, Chaplain of the Federation of Katyn Families
  • Bronisław Kwiatkowski, commander of Special Operations for the Polish Armed Forces
  • Wojciech Lubiński, doctor to the Polish President
  • Tadeusz Lutoborski, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Barbara Maciejczyk, stewardess
  • Barbara Mamińska, Director of the Presidential Chancellery
  • Zenona Mamontowicz-Łojek, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Stefan Melak, Chairman of the Committee of Katyn
  • Tomasz Merta, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Culture
  • Andrzej Michalak, flight crew
  • Dariusz Michałowski, officer in the presidential guard
  • Stanisław Mikke, Vice-president of the Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom
  • Justyna Moniuszko, stewardess
  • Aleksandra Natalli-Świat, a representative of the Polish Parliament (PiS)
  • Janina Natusiewicz-Mirer, a social activist
  • Piotr Nosek, officer in the presidential guard
  • Piotr Nurowski, head of the Polish Olympic Committee
  • Bronisława Orawiec-Löffler, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Jan Osiński, Battlefield chaplain for the Polish army
  • Adam Pilch, Evangelical battlefield chaplain for the Polish army
  • Katarzyna Piskorska, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Maciej Płażyński, President of the Association of “Polish Community”
  • Tadeusz Płoski, Chaplain of the Polish Army
  • Agnieszka Pogródka-Węcławek, officer in the presidential guard
  • Włodzimierz Potasiński, Commander Polish Special Forces
  • Arkadiusz Protasiuk, Captain of the flight
  • Andrzej Przewoźnik, Secretary for the Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom
  • Krzysztof Putra, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm
  • Ryszard Rumianek, Rector UKSW
  • Arkadiusz Rybicki, a representative of the Polish Parliament
  • Wojciech Seweryn, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations
  • Andrzej Sariusz Skąpski, President of the Federation of Katyn Families
  • Sławomir Skrzypek, President of the Polish National Bank
  • Leszek Solski, a representative of Katyn Families and other organization
  • Władysław Stasiak, head of the Presidential Chancellery
  • Jacek Surówka, officer in the presidential guard
  • Aleksander Szczygło, head of the National Security Bureau
  • Jerzy Szmajdziński, Deputy speaker of the Sejm
  • Jolanta Szymanek-Deresz, a representative of the Polish Parliament
  • Izabela Tomaszewska, traveling with the delegation
  • Marek Uleryk, officer in the presidential guard
  • Anna Walentynowicz, Solidarity activist
  • Teresa Walewska-Przyjałkowska, vice president of the Foundation of East Golgotha
  • Zbigniew Wassermann, the representative of the Polish Parliament
  • Wiesław Woda, a representative of the Polish Parliament
  • Edward Wojtas, a representative of the Polish Parliament
  • Paweł Wypych, Secretary of State in the President’s Chancellery
  • Stanisław Zając, senator of the Republic of Poland
  • Janusz Zakrzeński, actor
  • Artur Ziętek, flight crew
  • Gabriela Zych, a representative of Katyn Families and other organizations

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