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Russia might return plane wreckage if Poland ends probe: report

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 14.12.2017 16:30
A media report suggests that authorities in Moscow might be ready to return the wreckage of a Polish presidential plane that crashed in western Russia in 2010, but only if Warsaw ends an ongoing probe into the disaster.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on Thursday. Photo: EPA/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on Thursday. Photo: EPA/ALEXEY NIKOLSKY

In exchange for returning the wreckage of the Tu-154 plane, which crashed near the western Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010, killing then Polish President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others, the Russians expect the Poles to close a reinvestigation into the disaster, Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily has reported, as quoted by the wiadomosci.onet.pl news website.

'Uncompromising truth' needed: Polish PM

Earlier this week, Poland’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a media interview that “the authority of the institutions of the state and the circumstances in which the presidential couple and senior Polish officials died demand that the disaster be explained."

Morawiecki also said in the interview for Poland’s Gazeta Polska weekly that the “uncompromising truth” about the crash should be established, according to a report by wiadomosci.onet.pl, a Polish news website.

No 'explosion on board': Putin

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday he was tired of hearing allegations from Warsaw that the 2010 air crash was the result of a Russian conspiracy, according to the Reuters news agency.

Putin denied Polish suggestions that the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion.

“What happened in the plane has been carefully studied in the most detailed way," and "the same goes for the plane’s wreckage,” Putin said, as quoted by Reuters. He also suggested that "political insinuations" could further complicate Russian-Polish relations.

A further deterioration of Russian-Polish relations would "not be beneficial to Poland," he added, according to Reuters.

Russians 'holding on to our property': Polish Deputy FM

In a reaction to Putin’s comments, Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki said on Thursday that “the actions of the Russian side, based on a lack of response to some of the requests for legal assistance, on hiding important witnesses who took part in the events of April 10, 2010, and on holding on to our property – the wreckage of the Tu-154M plane - are not conducive to exposing the full truth” about the disaster “and force us to reflect on the intentions of the Russian side with regard to us, on the role of the Russian participants of the events at the time.”

Cichocki also told Poland’s PAP news agency that the conservative government in Warsaw would “continue to pursue with determination” its policy of having “the causes and circumstances of this catastrophe fully explained."

A new Polish commission to reinvestigate the crash in April said that the plane was probably destroyed by a mid-air explosion and that Russian air traffic controllers deliberately misled Polish pilots about their location as they neared the runway.

The new commission, which is still probing the crash, was set up by Poland’s conservative governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015.

The party is headed by Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczyński.

PiS has long challenged an official report into the crash issued by the previous Polish government which cited a catalogue of errors on the Polish side, while also pointing to errors made by Russian staff at the control tower of Smolensk Military Airport.

A Russian report placed all the blame on the Poles.


Source: wiadomosci.onet.pl, PAP, Reuters

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