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Russia condemns Polish claims that it failed to organize visit to Smolensk and Katyn

The Russian diplomats recalled that the Polish embassy referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the visit's cancellation
The Russian Foreign Ministry  Sergei Bobylev/TASS
The Russian Foreign Ministry
© Sergei Bobylev/TASS

MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Russia considers comments made by Polish Chief of the Chancellery Michal Dworczyk regarding the allegedly insufficient Russian cooperation in preparation for the Polish delegation’s visit to Smolensk and Katyn a provocative outburst, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Friday.

"Chief of the Chancellery Michal Dworczyk’s argumentation that Russia allegedly ‘did not provide a written answer to the presented logistical plans of the visit’ sparks bewilderment. We are baffled by the new provocative outburst of the Polish authorities," the ministry said.

The statement notes that the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Warsaw maintained close contact with the Polish side. "We have made uneasy decisions on opening Russia’s borders for the Polish delegation. We have informed the Poles that we would send a high-ranking Russian delegation to Smolensk, reaffirming our commitment to bilateral contacts. Throughout our dialogue with Poland, Warsaw has stated its satisfaction with the level of cooperation," the ministry commented.

"Instead of words of thanks we have seen outrageous ingratitude, which will remain on the conscience of Polish political functionaries, who continue to capitalize on the sacrosanct issue of their fellow citizens’ death in a crash," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "We have derived the proper conclusions from this."

The Russian diplomats stated that the visit of the Polish delegation had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have received a note from the Polish Embassy in Moscow today, which said that the visit was canceled due to the threat caused by the coronavirus pandemic," the ministry informed, adding that it was ready to provide the necessary support to organize the visit despite the difficult situation caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier, the Polish government decided to postpone the visit to Smolensk and Katyn planned for April 10 as timed to the tenth anniversary of the Polish presidential plane crash and the 80th anniversary of the tragic events in Katyn.

The Polish presidential plane crash

The Tupolev-154M presidential plane of the Polish Air Force crashed in the morning of April 10, 2010 while trying to land at the Smolensk North Airport, killing eight crew and 88 passengers, including President Lech Kaczynski. Criminal investigations are continuing in Poland and Russia.

The Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) experts concluded that the crash happened as a result of the actions of crew, who had made the wrong decision to land under difficult weather conditions and under psychological pressure. The Polish governmental commission also named the crew’s mistakes among the causes of the crash, as well as the fact that the pilot ignored the TAWS (Terrain awareness and warning system) signals to prevent unintentional impact with the ground.

The Law and Justice Polish political party chaired by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, twin brother of the deceased Lech Kaczynski, disputed these conclusions and initiated a revision of the experts’ work in 2015 by forming an updated sub-commission for investigating plane catastrophes.