Poland has charged Russian air traffic controllers with intentionally causing the 2010 plane crash at Smolensk that killed then President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other passengers, Poland’s deputy prosecutor general said on April 3.
The move appears more rhetoric by Poland’s ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) to engage its electorate with the highly divisive claims it has been making over the crash since day one.
PiS – headed by the late president’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski – has never agreed with the official conclusions of the Polish and Russian investigations into the crash. PiS claims there is a high likelihood that the accident was an assassination attempt in which Russia and the then Polish government headed by Donald Tusk were complicit.
The move by Polish presecutors comes as the seventh anniversary of the crash approaches next week. PiS is yet to present evidence to undermine the official version that the crash was a pilot error.
The captain of the president’s plane attempted to land in difficult conditions under pressure from officials, the Polish investigation concluded. It also said the work of the Smolensk control tower was poor, but not decisive.
The Polish prosecution now wants to question three Russians who were in the Smolensk airport control tower. It has asked Moscow for help.
“Previously gathered and new evidence has allowed prosecutors to press new charges against [the three Russians] for the crime of intentionally causing an air-travel disaster,” Marek Pasionek, deputy head of the national prosecutor’s office, told a news conference.
That Russia will cooperate appears extremely unlikely, however. “The circumstances of this tragedy have been thoroughly studied, and we cannot agree with such conclusions,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters in Moscow, AP reported.
PiS will carry out official state commemoration ceremonies during next week’s seventh anniversary of the tragedy. The government has banned any events that counter its view, citing that it would like to avoid “confrontation.” PiS leaders gather to remember victims of the crash on every tenth day of each month, with the last few meetings disrupted by demonstrations.
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