Russia denies Warsaw claim it has ‘secret evidence’ in Polish president’s plane crash
“There was no reason to claim that Russia has any new information, a previously not disclosed record from the cabin, which the Polish side is now requesting. There are only those records that the Interstate Aviation Commission and the Polish investigative commission had when they investigated the crash,” the Russian Embassy in Poland said on Wednesday in a statement.
“Senior Polish officials have the nerve to condition the normalization of Russian-Polish relations, which have been degraded not on Moscow’s initiative, to our ‘cooperation’ on this case, set up ultimatums and offer distinctively offensive statements,” the embassy added, saying that these actions were “undignified political speculation and myth-building at the expense of fostering understanding between Russia and Poland.”
Earlier, the Polish Defense Ministry demanded that Russia hand over “a full record of the conversations between the pilot and the passengers that were never provided to Poland.” Warsaw insisted that the record must exist based on the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stated that “everything was clear” about the plane’s demise.
“I personally read the conversations between the pilot and a man from the late president’s guard, who entered the cockpit. I read the transcript. The man who came to the pilots, can’t recall his name, demands a landing. The pilot says: ‘I can’t, there is no way we can land.’ But the man from the president’s entourage responds: ‘I can’t report this to the boss. Do what you can and land,’” Putin said during his annual Q&A session with the media last week.
Putin was apparently referring to the transcript published last year by the Polish Prosecutor’s Office shortly after an unauthorized copy was leaked to the media. The transcript clearly indicated that a high-ranking person, who was not a member of the crew, was present in the cockpit and pressured the pilots to attempt a landing in Smolensk. Polish President Lech Kaczynski was mentioned as the person making the decision on whether to attempt the landing despite the bad weather or fly to a backup airport in Minsk, Belarus.
Kaczynski and top Polish officials died in the 2010 crash in Russia while visiting the country to commemorate the victims of the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre. The Polish investigation into the crash was led by then-Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s liberal government.
The results, which revealed negligence in the Polish Air Force training program and cast a shadow over Kaczynski, who may have pressured the pilots into risking a landing in Smolensk, sparked outrage in the late president’s conservative PiS party.
Some of its top members accused Tusk of conspiring with Russia to cover up something sinister – from Russia playing a more significant part in the tragedy an unprecedented political assassination orchestrated by the Kremlin, depending on the speaker.
PiS came back to power in late 2015, and a new investigation into the Smolensk plane crash was launched and is about to “disclose the whole course of events,” according to Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, one of the key critics of the Polish probe under the Tusk administration. The minister said Putin’s comment meant that the new investigation “is a huge problem for Putin,” Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported.