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Putin castigates Poland’s attempt to blame Russia for presidential air crash as ‘bluff’

December 14, 2017, 15:11 UTC+3

An airliner carrying a top Polish delegation crashed near the city of Smolensk in west Russia on April 10, 2010, killing all 96 people on board including Lech Kaszynski

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© Maxim Shemetov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 14./TASS/. Poland’s new attempts to blame Russia for the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in the crash of a Tu-154 plane is a bluff and absurdity, President Vladimir Putin said at his annual news conference on Thursday.

"We are fed up with this bluff, just simply tired of it. It is nonsense, you are talking blatant nonsense," Putin said in reply to a question from a Polish journalist.

Putin reiterated that at that time he was Prime Minister. "I didn’t have direct involvement in international activity and endeavors by law enforcement agencies," he resumed. A Tu-154 plane, on its way from Warsaw, crashed as it was landing in Russia’s Smolensk on April 10, 2010. President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, politicians and military officials were on board the plane, none of them survived the tragedy.

The president categorically dismissed speculation about a “blast” on board the plane. "There were no explosions. Both from Polish and Russian experts studied everything. They studied with the greatest accuracy everything that happened inside the plane," he said.

Putin reiterated that somebody had entered the cabin and was told that the plane was not allowed to land. However, this individual insisted on the landing, saying he would get back and report.

He also noted that the plane had taken off not from Moscow but ratherfrom Warsaw. "If there were blasts on board, they had been planted there. Do you think it was Russian agents sneaking inside and planting explosives? If so, you’d better look at yourselves," he pointed out.

The president said Russia shares Poland’s grief over the tragedy. "There’s no need for making things up, if there is a problem and a tragedy, it must be viewed as a tragedy without any political speculation. Do you just want to further worsen Polish-Russian relations? For the sake of boosting some ratings in the country?" the president asked.

Kaszynski plane crash

A Tu-154M airliner carrying a top Polish delegation crashed near the city of Smolensk in west Russia on April 10, 2010, killing all 96 people on board including Polish President Lech Kaszynski and many other senior military and political figures. The plane’s pilots made a decision to land despite poor visibility and the absence of a visual contact with the ground. The plane crashed just several meters away from the runway.

A Polish government commission for investigation of aviation accidents found that the crash had been caused by the plane’s descending below the minimum altitude at an excessive speed in the weather conditions that allowed no visual contact with the ground, as well as the crew’s failure to timely execute a go-around maneuver. A report prepared by the commission also named the crew’s error and its failure to respond to TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System) signals as the causes for the air crash, apart from the plane’s dive to an impermissibly low altitude.

However, Poland’s Law and Justice party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late president, did not agree with the commission’s conclusions. After winning the 2015 parliamentary elections, its members set up a new sub-commission on investigating air accidents to review the commission’s work.

Explosion theory

In April 2017, the sub-commission summarized its activities for the previous year, admitting that its members were unable to say when their mission would be completed. In addition, they also acknowledged that they had not yet figured out the causes of the plane crash.

At the same time, the sub-commission claimed that an explosion on board could have caused the crash. However, there are no expert studies or research to prove this allegation, as the Polish prosecutors have been repeatedly saying.

Meanwhile, Maciej Lasek, the former head of the Polish government commission for investigation of aviation accidents, who participated in the activities aimed at establishing the cause of the crash in 2010-2011, said that the explosion theory was just propaganda and "fantasies of people who have never investigated aviation incidents."

Polish astrophysicist Pawel Artymowicz also reiterated that the explosion theory was groundless. "Experts have already figured out that there was no explosion. We know it from a great number of sources, including the voice recorder. This device could not have failed to record the sound of an explosion and the blast wave," he said.

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