Air Tragedy Kills Poland’s President
AP is reporting that a plane crashed in dense fog over Russia early this morning killing all 96 people on board. Among the dead, President Lech Kaczynski and his wife along with some of the country’s top military and civilian leaders.
Poland has suffered more than is any country’s right. Its story is one of repeated occupations, partitions and tyrannies. Sixty years ago, almost to the day, 21,768 Polish army officers, intellectuals and senior civil servants were murdered by the Soviet NKVD in the forest near Katyn: an attempt by Stalin to decapitate Poland by liquidating its elite. For years, the crime went unacknowledged: Western governments, reluctant to face up to the reality of the regime to which they had allied themselves, went along with the pretence that the massacre had been carried out by the Nazis.
This morning, a few miles from Katyn, another decapitation occurred. A Russian plane crashed near Smolensk, carrying the President of Poland, Lech Kaczy?ski, his wife Maria, and dozens of senior Polish officials. They had been returning from a ceremony at the site of the Katyn atrocity, for which Russia finally admitted responsibility in 1990.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will head the investigation into the crash. The Russian-built soviet-era Tupolev 154 jet has a poor safety record. It’s had 66 crashes, 5 in the last 5 years.
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