Polish Foreign Ministry summons Russian ambassador over Smolensk catastrophe billboards

The Polish Foreign Ministry has summoned Russian Ambassador to Warsaw Sergey Andreev in connection with information boards placed at the site of the Tu-154 plane crash near Smolensk that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

Poland expressed its dissatisfaction with the fact that the boards contain information from the Interstate Aviation Committee’s (IAC) report, which concluded that the aircraft’s crew was responsible for the catastrophe. Warsaw does not agree with the IAC’s findings, and for several years has been conducting its own secondary investigation, which places the blame on Russia.

The Polish Foreign Ministry complained that the “contents and the actual placement of the boards in Smolensk was not coordinated with Poland”.

“Poland expects Russia to provide an explanation, and to remove the signs that have been set up near the site of the catastrophe in Smolensk,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Tu-154 crashed while coming in to land at the North Smolensk airport, leading to the deaths of 96 people: Polish President Lech Kaczyński, the crew, and members of the official delegation traveling to an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

In January 2011, the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), published a report on the crash investigation, according to which the pilots were responsible for the catastrophe, since they rejected the advice to go to an alternate airport, despite the unfavorable weather conditions. The inadequate qualification of the crew is stated to be the indirect cause of the crash.

A commission led by former Polish defense minister Antoni Macierewicz refuted the theory that the pilots were to blame. According to a report presented in the Polish Sejm, there was an explosion in the plane’s left wing at an altitude of roughly 900 meters. Just before the landing strip, there were several emergencies, and then, while the plane was still in the air, an explosion in the aircraft’s fuselage. Furthermore, the commission determined that the operators in Smolensk gave the Polish Tu-154 crew incorrect information for landing.

The commission also ruled out the possibility that Polish Air Force General Andrzej Błasik was in the cockpit during the landing approach.

Macierewicz said that the technical report, which, according to him, does not yet reflect the official stance of the Polish government, has been given to the Prosecutor General’s Office, which is conducting its own investigation into the aviation catastrophe.

Russia has been unwilling to send the aircraft fragments and other physical evidence to Poland, claiming that the Russian investigation is not yet complete.

  Poland, Kaczynski, Russia, Tu-154