News / Europe

Polish Interim President to Set Election Date Next Week

Polish interim President Bronislaw Komorowski says the date for Poland's presidential election will be announced next week, after the state funeral for the late head of state Lech Kaczynski.

The announcement Wednesday comes as Poland prepares for a memorial service for Mr. Kaczynski, his wife, Maria and a host of Polish dignitaries killed last week in a plane crash.  

A memorial service for the 96 victims is set for Saturday, with a state funeral for the president scheduled for Sunday, April 18.  U.S. President Barack Obama and numerous European leaders are expected to attend.

Meanwhile, plans to inter Mr. Kaczynski in a crypt at a Krakow cathedral reserved for Polish heroes, poets and kings sparked a protest late Tuesday.  Hundreds of people demonstrated in the southern city to oppose the burial plans.  

An editorial Wednesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper said the decision to bury Mr. Kacszynski at Wawel Cathedral alongside independence hero Jozef Pilsudski and other Polish icons was "hasty and emotional" and could divide the country.

The plane carrying the Kaczynski entourage crashed while trying to land in western Russia for a memorial service honoring 22,000 Polish military officers and others executed by the Soviets at the onset of World War Two.

Saturday's crash near the Russian city of Smolensk also killed the chief of Poland's armed forces, the director of the central bank and the deputy foreign minister.  Others who perished include 90 year-old Ryszard Kaczorowski, who was the last president-in-exile while Poland was under Communism, and iconic labor leader Anna Walentynowicz.  

Her firing from a job as a crane operator in Gdansk in 1980 touched off the strike that led to the founding of  the trade union Solidarity and the eventual unraveling of Communism in Poland.  She was 80.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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