Sat, Apr 10, 2010
President Lech Kaczynski, His Wife Both Lost
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria, and 94 other
people were killed Saturday morning when the TU-154 they were
aboard went down on approach to Smolensk in western Russia in a
thick fog. Officials said aircraft, which was the official
Presidential plane, struck tree tops and broke apart about 1050
The accident has also killed Slawomir Skrzypek, the governor of
Poland's Central Bank, Army Chief of Staff General Franciszek
Gagor. and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrezej Kremer.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that the delegation was
traveling to Russia for an event recognizing the 70th anniversary
of the Katyn massacre. In 1940, the Soviet secret police executed
thousands of Polish officers near Smolensk.
The TU-154 was reportedly at least 20 years old. Polish
officials have reportedly been trying to replace the airplanes that
are used for official travel for several years, but have lacked the
funds to do so.
Kaczynski was elected President of Poland in 2005. He was 60. He
had planned to seek re-election in balloting that was scheduled for
this fall. In such a situation, Poland's speaker of the lower
chamber of Parliament becomes the acting head of state.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Russia
has appointed a special commission for that purpose led by Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
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