The theory that there was an explosion aboard the plane that carried Polish President Lech Kaczynski to Smolensk on Apr 10, 2010, and that Russia is responsible for the plane’s crash and the death of its 96 passengers has now become an official story in Poland. And it has a common denominator with the Skripal case: “if there are no proofs, it means that the crime has been committed by Russia.”
Last week, eight years after the Smolensk crash, the Poles appeared with a report on its causes. Nobody was surprised as the current Polish authorities have long forged their own “truth” about this tragedy and are pushing it hard despite obvious facts and pure logic.
They claim that the crash was caused by two explosions: one in the left wing of the plane when it was just 900 meters far from the runway, the other in the body of the plane; and that the Russian flight operations officers misled the crew.
But the real truth about the crash is known as the case has been investigated by both Russian and Polish experts.
And neither Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee nor Poland’s Military Prosecutor’s Office have found any proofs that it was an attempt to kill President Kaczynski.
The Russians say that the crash was caused by the incompetence of the crew, who had no proper skills to operate a Tu-154M and were forced to land despite bad weather by the chief commander of the Polish air forces, who (reportedly drunk) was instructing the pilots how to land.
As a result, the crew got lost and flew into a ravine. In an attempt to fly out of the deadly trap, the aircraft began shaving the trees, but one of them, a birch, was too tall and broke the wing of the plane. As a result, it turned over and crashed.
The Polish experts blame mostly the Russian air traffic controllers, who, according to them, misled the crew. They deny the presence of the drunk chief commander in the flight deck but confirm the presence of the deadly birch.
But the Law and Justice party – whose leaders were killed in the crash – rejected those findings right away. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who lost a twin brother in the tragedy, reshaped it into a new political religion. He began organizing monthly manifestations and while people were commemorating those killed in the accident, he was recruiting most ardent Russophobes.
Their “truth” was that the crash was caused by an explosion organized by the Kremlin and that it was Russia’s attempt to get rid of the anti-Russian Polish President. Those people formed an influential “Smolensk sect” in the party and in 2011, one of them, MP Antoni Macierewicz, was instructed to find “experts” who would prove the Kremlin’s complicity in the case. Most of the “experts” were unknown Polish scientists from U.S. universities (“suspicious professors” – as one of the best known and oldest Polish professors called them on TV).
Having no slightest idea about aviation or air crashes, those people came up with very funny “findings”. One of them said that the trunk of the birch was not able to break the plane’s wing (even though it was 30-40 cm in diameter) and ironized that only “an armored tree” could do that. As a result, the “expert group” concluded that the plane did not crash into the tree even though there are lots of photos of the broken birch with fragments of the plane in its trunk.
In their Aug 2012 report, they said that the crash was caused by two explosions and one of their proofs was an experiment involving… frankfurters cracking as a result of prolonged boiling. And in order to show how the blasts tore the plane apart, the “experts” used aluminum beer cans.
Macierewicz termed the accident as “Smolensk outrage” and said the following: “Approved by Tusk’s government, Russia has created a pyramid of lie, deliberately destroying and hiding the plane wreckage, manipulating the black boxes and other evidences. How can one call the situation in which the elite is killed and the nation is left without leadership? This is declaration of war by Russia even if the attack comes in a year, two or five years. We must be aware that it is declaration of war!”
This attitude made Macierewicz an idol among anti-Russian Poles but most people in Poland did not take him seriously.
But the joke was over when Law and Justice won parliamentary elections in Oct 2015 and formed a cabinet, where Macierewicz was appointed as minister of defense (or, according to some jesters, Minister for War against Russia). One of his first steps in the new office was to form a commission of truth about the Smolensk crash. That commission comprised all the people from the previous “expert group.”
The official verdict of the new Polish government is “Russia has killed the Polish president.” What consequences will this have for Polish-Russian relations? Don’t worry: today the Polish-Russian relations are so bad that nothing can make them worse – especially as the “Smolensk outrage” show is not over: the report published last week was just “technical.” So, we are yet to see more episodes of the “Assassination Attempt on the Polish Elite and Moscow’s Hand” tragicomedy.
Alexander Shtorm, specially for EADaily from Warsaw