PM criticises Russia for not returning presidential plane wreckage

The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has criticised Russia for not returning the wreckage and black boxes of the TU-154M plane that crashed in Smolensk in 2010, killing all 96 onboard, including the then Polish President Lech Kaczyński and his wife.

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Russia’s failure to return the items has fueled conspiracy theories in Poland that claim the disaster was caused by foul play. However, hitherto investigations have not demonstrated.

“There is resistance on the part of Russia; it has been resorting to inadmissible actions,” Mr Morawiecki said on Friday, adding that he had in mind “the lack of return of the Tu-154 wreckage and black boxes.”

Mr Morawiecki made the statement just a few days after the airing of a television documentary based on a report into the accident and relied on the findings of an investigative committee headed by Antoni Macierewicz, a former defence minister.

According to the film, the report claims the crash was caused not by poor weather and human error but by two explosions, which investigators say occurred in the left wing and fuselage of the TU-154M.

The PM admitted that he had seen the film and said that, along with the report, which will be published soon, it was “a very important document in the process of explaining the national tragedy which occurred eleven years ago.”

According to Mr Morawiecki, everyone for whom the good of Poland was important, should thoroughly examine everything presented in the report.

“It presents very concrete calculations prepared by the world/s most well-known research institutes,” including the US National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), he added.

Having again blamed Russia for not returning the wreckage and black boxes to Poland, PM Morawiecki said “this has made it impossible to ask some additional questions or explain some issues.”

“If the Russian side has a clear conscience, it could surely hand over this evidence,” he said.

An official report into the disaster attributed the cause of the crash to a number of factors such as the weather and pilot error as well as a collision with a birch tree.

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”Gazeta Wyborcza” questions validity of evidence, prosecutor’s office deflects claims

Meanwhile, the “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily wrote on Friday that parts of the presidential plane, spare seats and samples of soil and clothing, “which the Polish prosecutor’s office has been sending abroad, were in a storage room with explosives and drugs for two years.”

“And they have lost their value as evidence,” the daily wrote, adding that, as they had been contaminated, they could no longer be used in any further examinations.

According to an expert quoted by the newspaper, the traces of explosives found on the seats of the aircraft come from the substances in the storage room.

The National Prosecutor’s office denied the charges published by the paper, claiming that the article presented untrue and manipulated information.

“It is untrue that... traces and samples handed over by the National Prosecutor’s Office to foreign laboratories had lost their evidence value due to improper storage at the central criminal lab of the Polish police,” the institution wrote in a statement.

”Foreign experts had approved them for further examination,” it said.

On April 10, 2010, 96 people were killed in the crash of the Tu-154M plane carrying a Polish delegation to the ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in Russia. Among the victims of the plane crash were President Lech Kaczyński and the First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, the highest military commanders and the last President of the Republic of Poland in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski.