'Forced to land' – speculation Polish President’s decision caused plane crash
As the investigation into the fatal crash in western Russia that killed the Polish president last April continues, Poland itself seems to be divided over who to blame.
New evidence has come to light that the former head of state himself, Lech Kaczynski, gave the final order to land the plane.According to one article in a Russian newspaper, that order was the cause of the Smolensk plane crash which killed the Polish president, his wife and much of Poland's political elite. But the decision, according to the paper's anonymous source, was not made by the pilots or air traffic controllers. The ban on reverting to a backup airport was allegedly put in effect by the president himself. As Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper says, “One Polish journalist (whose name is not disclosed for obvious reasons) said that the special aviation regiment that flies VIP passengers received a secret instruction, which said the plane could divert only with permission from its main passenger.”The rules state that the pilots' priorities, however, should never have changed – whether such instructions existed or not. “Maybe Kaczynski had enforced such a rule,” says Oleg Smirnov, who was deputy aviation minister of the former USSR. “But I don't want to know about it, because according to every existing rule and regulation, the crew prepares the flight. And until the plane lands, the pilot, and not the president, is in charge of every decision.”Poland is, of course, vehemently denying even the possibility of such instructions existing.This information was unbelievable from the beginning, claims General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch, Polish chief of defense. “But I ordered for it to be checked and I've already received 100 per cent information that such an instruction didn't exist. Neither internal nor general,” says Cieniuch. This statement, however, would have carried a lot more weight if it was not contradicted by the government spokesman.As Polish MP Pawel Gras says, “This is obvious that there are internal regulations in the division, there is the ‘head’ instruction, which regulates the flights of the most important people in the country.”And the confusion does not stop there. “The pilot had two backup airports – Minsk and Vitebsk,” explains Oleg Smirnov. “And this really says a lot about the quality of the crew's prep. Because Vitebsk wasn't even working that day!”The official investigation found pilot error was to blame. Despite mounting evidence, Poland remains intent on pursuing its own investigation into the crash, and trying to prove that Russian air-traffic control was also responsible. This course of action, some say, is only for political leverage ahead of the country's parliamentary elections. Polish aviation experts agreed with the investigation report and its findings. And unless the politicians are willing to do the same, instead of trying to shift the blame and gain voter support, many more similar revelations could come to light placing the Poles in an even more uncomfortable position.