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12 Apr, 2010 11:36

Poland grieves

The body of the Polish President is lying in state in the nation's capital Warsaw after being brought back from Russia.

Tomorrow, people will have a chance to walk past the body of Lech Kaczynski and pay their respects to him, also honoring the 95 others who died in Saturday's Smolensk plane crash.

The date for a funeral is yet to be set. According to Jacek Sasin, a spokesman for the presidential palace, the officials are planning the ceremony for Saturday. However, a final decision depends on when the bodies of all the deceased are returned home. Russian and Polish officials are still working to identify many of the other victims.

The plane crash took the lives of not only the country’s political, but also its military and legislative elite.

The tragedy has united the nation. The presidential palace has been surrounded by people in mourning day and night ever since the tragedy.

Polish people believe the very place of the crash is just unimaginable. The plane with the Polish president and the elite crashed close to a common grave of Polish officers.

The last time Poland saw such an outpouring of grief was when Pope John Paul II, Polish by nationality, died in 2005.

Bronislaw Komorovsky, speaker of the Polish parliament, was going to be Lech Kaczynski’s opponent at the next presidential election. Under the terms of the Polish constitution, Komorovsky has been appointed the head of the state after the president’s death. He has suddenly been tragically overwhelmed with the duties he was once preparing to fight for.

“In the face of a drama like this our nation remains united,” announced now acting President of Poland Bronislaw Komorovsky. “There is no division into left and right, different viewpoints do not matter. We are together in the face of tragedy, in the face of the deaths of many people. We are united in pain with the families of the victims and in the care of the future of our orphaned motherland.”

In the next two weeks, Komorovsky’s task is going to be to name the date of the unscheduled presidential election, which should take place within the next two months. Officials say it is hard to even imagine what this presidential campaign will be like. People on the streets say the emotions are too raw even to be contemplating who the next president should be.

Condolences have been flooding into the country from around the world. Russia says it is prepared to provide all the help needed to bring the life of the people in Poland back to normal.

“Dear friends, citizens of the Polish Republic! I and all the citizens of Russia have been shaken by this terrible tragedy, the death of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria and all the Polish citizens on board the crashed plane. Over these past days we were holding together remembrance ceremonies mourning the victims of the totalitarianism. Lech Kaczynski was coming to Russia to personally pay tribute to the killed Polish officers, both as a president and as a citizen of his country. All Russians are sharing grief and sorrow with you,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in his official address.

Many say it is times like this that people should stand hand in hand.

The grief has spread beyond Polish borders. Many countries have announced Monday a day of mourning in the memory of those who died in a plane crash near Smolensk.