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Russia waits for Poland’s new proposals on Tu-154M memorial

January 27, 17:18 UTC+3 SOBIBOR
The architects’ proposals exceeded the allotment’s boundaries sixfold
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© Vladimir Astapkovich/ITAR-TASS

SOBIBOR, January 27 /TASS/. Russia is waiting for renewed proposals from Poland on erecting a memorial at the crash site of the Polish presidential plane Tu-154M on April 10, 2010, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky told a briefing on Wednesday after laying wreaths in memory of the victims of Nazism during a visit to the former Nazi death camp in Sobibor, Poland.

"Under an international project, which won the contest, the memorial’s estimated capacity is 400 square metres. Regrettably, the architects’ proposals exceed significantly - almost sixfold - the allotment’s boundaries," Medinsky said.

"We have sent an official letter to the Polish Ministry of Culture with a request to correct the project and submit other proposals. We understand that any artist wants to make his monument bigger but in that case it would too close to the runway and will make it impossible to ensure flight safety," the Russian culture minister added.

Medinsky confirmed Russia’s readiness to implement the project. "In this case, the ball is in Poland’s court," the minister said adding that Moscow had been waiting for Warsaw’s reply for nine months. "A change of government in Poland can be a reason behind the delay. We hope that the new leadership will be more active [on the memorial issue]. We will give all necessary support, for our part," Medinsky concluded.

Remembering the Tragedy

A Tu-154 plane of Polish President Lech Kaczynski crashed while landing at Severny airport near Smolensk in conditions of thick fog on April 10, 2010. There were 96 people onboard, including 88 members of an official Polish delegation. All the people onboard, including President Kaczynski and his wife, died in the crash. An inquiry into the plane crash is still under way both in Poland and in Russia.

In 2012, Poland announced an international contest for the memorial, which was supposed to be built on Polish money. Russia pledged to cover the expenses on place making.

A group of Polish sculptors suggested erecting a 2.2 m-high wall made of red Swedish granite at the crash site on which the names of all the victims would be inscribed. According to the architectural concept, the wall had to interrupt for several metres in one place to enable the visitors to see the crash site’s panorama. The granite monument and its infrastructure is to occupy an area of 1,219 metres.

The initial Polish draft suggested that the wall should be 100 metres long. The Russian side asked for cutting it more than twice because, as it said, it would be technically impossible to put such a huge object on the designated piece of land. As Russian Culture Minister Medinsky said back in 2014, the memorial should not be more than 40 metres long. Otherwise, he said, it would be impossible to make the territories adjacent to the monument. Medinsky believes that the territory adjacent to the monument should be a place where people will come to pay tribute to the victims; lay wreaths and stay alone with the tragedy.

The Russian and Polish sides have been in talks since then.

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