Council of Europe pressures Russia to return presidential plane wreckage

A report on the investigation of the 2010 Smoleńsk presidential plane crash was presented during a debate in the Council of Europe on Friday. The debate concluded with the adoption of a resolution calling for Russia to return the wreckage of the Tu-154m presidential aircraft to Poland.

The debate “The crash of Polish Air Force Tu-154M transporting the Polish State delegation, on 10 April 2010 on the Russian Federation's territory” took place in the Council of Europe on Friday.

During the session, a report prepared by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt was presented outlining the eight years of investigation and the role played by Russia in the aftermath of the crash.

The main issue constituted Russia’s continuous possession of the wreckage and the black boxes and refusal to release them to Poland. The report, citing the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, argued that the aircraft should return to Poland.

“It took as long as four years to prepare the report”, said Włodzimierz Bernacki, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, before the session began.

The Council of Europe voted in favour of the resolution. A total of 46 council members supported the case while 6 absainted.

The resolution now calls for Russia to return the wreckage of the presidential plane without further delay and in close cooperation with Polish experts.

In spite of the vote, however, the decision does not have any legal binding.

Member of the Parliamentary Assembly Aleksander Pociej said that its effect “is purely a strongly moral one. The Council of Europe, unfortunately, lacks any authority to impose sanctions or instruct a state how to act.”