President of Poland killed in plane crash

posted at 7:51 am on April 10, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The West has lost a good friend this morning. Poland’s conservative President Lech Kaczynski, who stood in defense of free nations in the region, was killed along with 88 others when his plane attempted to land in heavy fog in Smolensk. He had flown to Russia to jointly commemorate the massacre of 20,000 Polish Army officers in Katyn forest with the current Russian government:

Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed early Saturday when the plane he was traveling in with his wife and a Polish delegation crashed at a western Russian airport, according to the Russian regional governor.

“There are no survivors,” said Smolensk Governor Sergey Antufyev, according to his spokesman. …

The plane was approaching the airport at Smolensk, Russia — just a few miles east of Katyn — and probably hit some trees at the end of the runway, Paszkowski said.

The Investigation Committee of the Russian prosecutor’s office said the plane, a Tupolev-154, was trying to land in heavy fog.

Kaczynski was no stranger to controversy.  Poles elected him in 2005 after dissatisfaction with an earlier slide towards European collectivism.  Kaczynski became a Euro-skeptic, preferring to keep Poland at arms length from the EU.  When Georgia and Ukraine went through tribulations with Russia, Kaczynski was a dependable voice for self-determination in eastern Europe.

Kaczynski wasn’t the only official from Poland on the flight.  He was traveling with a large delegation of officials, all of whom died along with him:

Tusk and Polish cabinet ministers were holding a special meeting Saturday morning to discuss the situation, said a spokeswoman for the Polish Parliament, who declined to be named because she was not authorized to speak publicly.

Under Polish law, if something happens to the president, leadership transfers to the Parliament speaker, who is Bronislaw Komorowski, the spokeswoman said.

She said more information would come out after the meeting.

“There is going to be a huge gap in public life in Poland,” said resident Magdalena Hendrysiak. “The most important people are dead.”

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Poles and the families of those killed.

Update: Legal Insurrection has more, including reaction from Lech Walesa and the bitter irony of losing these national leaders in connection with the commemoration of the Katyn massacre, the site of which is nearby to the military airport where the crash happened.  “It is a damned place,” said another of Kaczynski’s predecessors in reaction to the crash.


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Unfortunately, we have battles to fight in our country, therefore I will write this off to Occam’s Razor for now. The fact that this took place in Russia near where the Russian’s successfully blamed the murders of hundreds of Polish officers on the Germans for over fifty years, makes anything possible. Russians are a strange people.

carbon_footprint on April 10, 2010 at 2:08 PM

carbon_footprint on April 10, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Correction: THOUSANDS of POW’s (mainly military officers) MURDERED by the RUSSIANS and blamed on the Germans.

carbon_footprint on April 10, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Correction: THOUSANDS of POW’s (mainly military officers) MURDERED by the RUSSIANS and blamed on the Germans.

carbon_footprint on April 10, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Actually anyone with a college degree was classified as an officer, so many civilians also died. Most historians agree on an estimate of 20,000. The chief executioner for the NKVD claimed to have personally shot over 6,000. They attempted to execute at least 250 a day.

Deanna on April 10, 2010 at 2:24 PM

I, for one, do not accept the official story.

Disturb the Universe on April 10, 2010 at 10:34 AM

I, for one, agree with you.

Mirimichi on April 10, 2010 at 12:53 PM

And I also agree with Disturb and Mirimichi. Although I am not a “conspiracy theorist,” I am the second generation of a family that fled the Communist takeover of (the former) Czechoslovakia after WWII. Even when the USSR fell, my family never trusted the so-called “former Communists” and believed they would one day rise again to destroy freedom-loving countries. “Once a Communist, always a Communist.”

My heart goes out to the people of Poland, and my prayers to the families of those who perished.

GrannyDee on April 10, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Putin and Russia will use this opportunity to:
a) try to put in a more Russian-leaning govt. in Poland.
b) try to build up goodwill with Poland.
c) continue to take advantage of the weakness/amature Obama and his ignoring/abandoning Europe.
d) long run strategy get Poland to move away from west.

Hard to do, but Russia has nothing to lose and an Obama opportunity will not come along again.

albill on April 10, 2010 at 2:29 PM

For heaven’s sake, I hope the Donald Tusk & the Polish Government ask the US NTSB to investigate the alleged crash/ probable assassination.

Having ex-KGB thug Vladimir Putin in charge of the investigation is like having Hitler as chief judge running the Nuremberg Holocaust Trials.

CatchAll on April 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM

seems a little to coincidental to me.

cubbieblue25 on April 10, 2010 at 2:44 PM

too*

cubbieblue25 on April 10, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Condolences can be sent to:

His Excellency Robert Kupiecki, The Ambassador of Poland
Embassy of the Republic of Poland
2640 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Phone: (202) 234 3800
Fax: (202) 328 6271

Proper mode of address (from InfoPlease):

On envelope: His/Her Excellency Fullname, The Ambassador of Placename

Salutation: Excellency or Dear Mr./Madam Ambassador

Rosmerta on April 10, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Instrument Landing Systems are completely dependent on highly calibrated ground equipment. Something as simple as a stray ground vehicle can significantly alter the radio signals that indicate landing aircraft’s desired flight path. Such an event would not be recorded, probably not even recognized, and certainly unprovable after the fact. Not that a Russian investigation team that has already declared pilot error at fault would even risk their lives by investigating the possibility of incompetence or malice on the part of the Russian government.

Maquis on April 10, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Weather reports at 10:00 indicated a temperature at Smolensk of 1°C, Dew Point:1°C, wind from 140 degrees at 6 knots, Pressure: 1026 hPa, heavy fog.

Possible icing?

BallisticBob on April 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Freezing fog can in fact cause ice buildup rapidly on an aircraft.

Did that weather report mention what the visibility was?

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Freezing fog can in fact cause ice buildup rapidly on an aircraft.

Did that weather report mention what the visibility was?

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Weather reports at 10:00 indicated a temperature at Smolensk of 1°C, Dew Point:1°C, wind from 140 degrees at 6 knots, Pressure: 1026 hPa, heavy fog.

Here is an interesting statistic:

66th loss of a Tupolev 154

Yoop on April 10, 2010 at 3:20 PM

This is a sad, sad day…

Prayers to all.

Seven Percent Solution on April 10, 2010 at 3:24 PM

This has a feel of a day of Infamy to me.

Willow on April 10, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Smutny dzień Polakom wszędzie.

Bigfoot on April 10, 2010 at 4:08 PM

I suspect the Russians masterminded this crash. How convenient for Russia that every single person in any leadership position, including the central banker and the army chief are dead. Expect a Moscow puppet government to emerge with Obama’s imprimatur.

andy85719 on April 10, 2010 at 4:10 PM

And I also agree with Disturb and Mirimichi. Although I am not a “conspiracy theorist,” I am the second generation of a family that fled the Communist takeover of (the former) Czechoslovakia after WWII. Even when the USSR fell, my family never trusted the so-called “former Communists” and believed they would one day rise again to destroy freedom-loving countries. “Once a Communist, always a Communist.”

My heart goes out to the people of Poland, and my prayers to the families of those who perished.

GrannyDee on April 10, 2010 at 2:25 PM

I had relatives who fled the USSR myself. Funny how those of us with more than academic knowledge are less trusting of the old communists.

Disturb the Universe on April 10, 2010 at 4:37 PM

I suspect the Russians masterminded this crash. How convenient for Russia that every single person in any leadership position, including the central banker and the army chief are dead. Expect a Moscow puppet government to emerge with Obama’s imprimatur.

andy85719 on April 10, 2010 at 4:10 PM

It was probably the Russian’s brilliant idea to have them all on the same plane.

DarkCurrent on April 10, 2010 at 4:51 PM

No ILS and they’re trying to land in heavy fog with temps barely above freezing?

BallisticBob on April 10, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Extremely poor pilot judgment played right into Moscow’s devious plan.

DarkCurrent on April 10, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Tragic news. We can’t be losing fierce defenders of freedom like this, not when America, the Leader of the Free world, is in the slump it is.

Daemonocracy on April 10, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Air Force Gen. Alexander Alyoshin confirmed that the pilot disregarded instructions to fly to another airfield. The Smolensk airfield is not equipped with an instrument landing system to guide planes to the ground.

No ILS and they’re trying to land in heavy fog with temps barely above freezing?

BallisticBob on April 10, 2010 at 4:46 PM

In a crash that ends up being the 66th loss of a Tupolev 154. Remarkable coincidences, all of them.

Yoop on April 10, 2010 at 5:09 PM

This is such bad, sad news.
God rest the souls of the victims and may He comfort their friends and loved ones.

Will Poland ever catch a break?

Jenfidel on April 10, 2010 at 5:10 PM

Air Force Gen. Alexander Alyoshin confirmed that the pilot disregarded instructions to fly to another airfield. The Smolensk airfield is not equipped with an instrument landing system to guide planes to the ground.

No ILS and they’re trying to land in heavy fog with temps barely above freezing?

BallisticBob on April 10, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Pilot arrogance and pilot error.

BTW I saw a cite on another forum that Russia does not use ILS, they use a different system.

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Yea; Sure;
This is April Fools in Kyrgyzstan, right?

Cybergeezer on April 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

I sat and figured it out: it would be like if Barack & Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Bush Sr., Leon Panetta, the heads of the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines, Ben Bernanke, 3 senators, 14 House members, Newt Gingrich, Mark Harmon, and Rahm Emanuel all died at once.

playblu on April 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Tupelov, ice, fog, blablabla. I don’t buy it for one second. Rule number 1: Never trust the Russians.

All well planned assassinations has the plausible deniablity of an “accident”.

Remember, the President of Poland was very high on Putin’s to-kill-list, probably only slightly below Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia.

Norwegian on April 10, 2010 at 5:34 PM

playblu on April 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Sweet dreams!

Cybergeezer on April 10, 2010 at 5:37 PM

playblu on April 10, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Who’s the Polish equivalent of Mark Harmon?

Checking out the list of crashes with the Tupolev:

here have been 66 serious flight incidents with Tu-154s, including 36 hull-losses with human fatalities. [17][18] Six of those incidents resulted from terrorist or military action including an accidental missile shootdown by Ukraine, several from poor runway conditions in winter (including one which struck snow ploughs on the runway), cargo overloading by airlines in the lapse of post-Soviet federal safety standards (several cases), and mid-air collisions due to faulty air traffic control or mis-communication. Other incidents have resulted from mechanical problems (two cases prior to 2001), running out of fuel on unscheduled extended route, pilot error, and cargo fires. According to the BBC and aviation experts[who?], the Tu-154 has an average safety record considering its length of service (and heavy use in the most demanding conditions), and few accidents appear to have been due to technical failure.[19]

Wikipedia obviously. If you check the list, Seems like the majority of fatalities are from the Iranian carrier, for what it’s worth.

dIb on April 10, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Some seriously bad judgement at a minimum. Everyone of rank in that plane? In fog? In Russia? just seems fishy.

johnnyU on April 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Sad. Sad.

My condolences to the People of Poland.

Either I missed it or HA decided not to post on the coal mine tragedy so I will take this opportunity to also express my condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in W. Virgina.

Life is short, live it well.

Texas Gal on April 10, 2010 at 5:57 PM

BTW I saw a cite on another forum that Russia does not use ILS, they use a different system.

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 5:25 PM

http://rt.com/Top_News/2010-04-10/landing-systems-kaczynski-crash.html

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Just to repeat: the plane carrying the journalists landed safely forty minutes earlier.

President and journalists in one place – good. Different place – bad.

The pilot could have been ordered to land at Smolensk.

OldEnglish on April 10, 2010 at 6:26 PM

I hope the Obama Administration sends the appropriate level of dignitary to the state funeral…

Khun Joe on April 10, 2010 at 7:52 PM

I suspect the Russians masterminded this crash. How convenient for Russia that every single person in any leadership position, including the central banker and the army chief are dead. Expect a Moscow puppet government to emerge with Obama’s imprimatur.

Quit the bullshit conspiracy theories already. Kaczynski was serving out the last year of his term and no poll was giving him a chance for reelection. The man projected to win, Bronisław Komorowski, is now the acting president. And, in accordance to protocol, command of the Polish armed forces have been transferred to those next-in-line. Poland is not some banana republic. Most than any other nations probably, Poland was better prepared for the doomsday scenario–which, unfortunately, occurred today. People are in shock, but the state is functioning.

The Russians have, incidentally, handled matters with unexpected decency and kindness. Seriously, don’t exploit a national tragedy for the sake of your prejudices.

year_of_the_dingo on April 10, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Just to repeat: the plane carrying the journalists landed safely forty minutes earlier.

President and journalists in one place – good. Different place – bad.

The pilot could have been ordered to land at Smolensk.

OldEnglish on April 10, 2010 at 6:26 PM

40 minutes is a lifetime in the aviation weather world. Especially in Russia in particular and the Asian continent in particular. You can have it be summer at 9 AM, then a cold front with weather blows thru and 30 minutes later it will be freezing.

Hell, here in central New Hampshire today I was cloudy in the low 30s with snow showers all morning, but by 5 PM it was totally sunny and 60 degrees.

Del Dolemonte on April 10, 2010 at 8:37 PM

So sad. I offer prayers for the people of Poland.

TN Mom on April 10, 2010 at 9:00 PM

Prayers to Poland.
As for Russia,.. TRUST NOTHING!

christene on April 10, 2010 at 11:08 PM

If this is a repost I apologize.

Do not blame the Tu-154. While it is an old design with only a mediocre safety record. It was flown by Aeroflot, an airline notorious for poor maintenance, and sub par pilots.

People tend to be arrogant about things that they are good at. The worst mistakes I have made in my adult life have all been at things I am good at.

However given Russia’s, and Putin’s history, assassination is a real possibility.

Slowburn on April 11, 2010 at 1:45 AM

Poland leading the opposition to Russia in the South Ossetia War in 2008…check

US/Poland missile shield…check

Poland thwarting the Nord Stream pipeline for several years…check

Poland signing deal with Lithuania to create a separate pipeline to supply several eastern block states in spite of Russia, a couple days ago…check

Poland being a constant thorn in the side of Russia/EU relations…check

Weenie US president…check

Just sayin’.

selias on April 10, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Thanks for the summary of recent Polish-Russian relations. In light of this rundown, the crash looks even more suspicious.

Who is John Galt on April 11, 2010 at 4:13 AM

Hmm… thick fog, insisting at landing at airport after attempt to re-route, and then a number of attempted landings.

Doesn’t sound like a plot… more like pilot error.

Horrible thing to happen.

lexhamfox on April 11, 2010 at 8:29 AM

They sure were quick to pin this on the pilot.

johnnyU on April 11, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Planes crash in heavy fog and the pilot was warned by the tower not to attempt again and to use another airport. The pilot was blamed and rightfully so.

Mr. Joe on April 11, 2010 at 10:40 AM

My sincere condolences to the people of Poland.

Find out what actually happened.

dogsoldier on April 11, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Did Obama sign off on this in invisible ink in his recent surrender to Medvedev?

Really Right on April 11, 2010 at 12:22 PM

Possible icing?

BallisticBob on April 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Very possible, 1c on the ground meant they were no doubt passing through a cold, wet layer on the way in. And ice is not nice, often very difficult to even know you are picking it up, about the time pilot was shallowing his approach he discovers he is heavy and sluggish.

Really bad day for Poland and all of Europe. The world lost a voice of reason steeped in history. Sad, very sad.

JusDreamin on April 11, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Nationalistic leaders who believe in free markets and conservative values don’t last long in Europe. It does mesh with the globalist agenda:

He was also much more comfortable dealing with the U.S. than the E.U., which Poland joined in 2004. Indeed, Mr. Kaczynski was regarded as a skeptic of the union. He was determined to protect Poland’s sovereignty against Brussels but equally determined, as a devout Catholic, to protect Poland’s traditional and conservative values.

Pitchforker on April 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM

The President was a nationalist and a social conservative but he was also anti-free market and not an economic conservative.

lexhamfox on April 11, 2010 at 3:26 PM

The executive team from the corporation I used to work for took different flights for safety/insurance.

Why were all these High Ranking officials on one plane?

Inanemergencydial on April 11, 2010 at 5:05 PM

4 attempted approaches suddenly becomes one attempt according to this source.

The air traffic controller at Smolensk Air Base (Northern Airport) said, that the communication between him and the crew was done in Russian, the crew understanding Russian but not being fluent in the language and having trouble to do their readbacks. The airplane was on its first approach, when he advised of the deteriorating visibility and recommended to divert, the crew however responded, that they would give it one try and divert thereafter if they were not able to land. During the approach the crew stopped reading back, the aircraft subsequently impacted ground.

Polish officials confirmed, that the airplane was on its first approach to the Air Base, when it impacted the trees. Three flights were to land at the Air Base in that period of time: the first was a Yakovlev YAK-40 carrying journalists accompanying Poland’s president, which made a safe landing. The second was a Russian Ilyushin IL-76, which diverted after two unsuccessful approaches. The third was the presidential Tupolev TU-154M.

selias on April 11, 2010 at 6:37 PM

This is serious, and I don’t want to make light of how devastating this is to Poland, as well as the U.S….but…
Why does the image of Joe Biden going to a Polish funeral make me laugh…what could go wrong?
Stand up Lech, take a bow…

right2bright on April 12, 2010 at 10:04 AM

You may need to read the following…

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100033738/polish-president-killed-in-air-crash-the-conspiracy-theorists-will-go-crazy/

If you ask me this is all a ploy by private banks to make Poland join the E-U. This guy was a part of the NWO. But when he woke up and realized all the troubles going on in the E-U…HE ENDS UP DEAD!

IYAM, was this an accident…not sure. This guy was kicking the private banks out…NOW HE’S DEAD. THIS HAS NATO’S FINGERPRINTS WRITTEN ALL OVER IT!

BobAnthony on April 12, 2010 at 12:20 PM

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