News / Europe

    Polish Minister Suggests 2010 Plane Crash Was Act of Terrorism

    Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz attends a meeting with his Latvian counterpart, Raimonds Bergmanis, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 14, 2016.
    Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz attends a meeting with his Latvian counterpart, Raimonds Bergmanis, in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, March 14, 2016.
    Associated Press

    Poland's defense minister is coming under criticism for suggesting that the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Poland's president was an act of terrorism perpetrated by Russia.

    Official investigations by Poland and Russia have determined that the crash that killed Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other top officials was an accident caused by the error of pilots trying to land in heavy fog.

    Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has long suggested the crash, which took place near Smolensk, Russia, could have been an assassination, but his weekend comments were unusually strong.

    "What happened near Smolensk was aimed at depriving Poland of its leadership, which was on a path of leading our nation to independence," Macierewicz said in a lecture at a Catholic university in the city of Torun.

    "We were the first victims of terrorism in the 1930s, and through Smolensk, we can say that we were also the first major victim of terrorism in a modern conflict, which is unfolding before our eyes," Macierewicz said.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the words "unfounded, biased and having nothing to do with the real circumstances of this tragedy."

    Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee, Russia's main investigative agency, said on Twitter: "A new leader has suddenly emerged in the race for the most absurd and stupid statement."

    In Poland, an opposition lawmaker and former deputy foreign minister, Rafal Trzaskowski, said he was "terrified by these words."

    Macierewicz is due to host a NATO summit taking place in Warsaw in July. The military alliance is increasingly at odds with Russia over its actions in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

    FILE - Jaroslaw Kaczynski leader of ruling party Law and Justice Party attends a remembrance ceremony for the 2010 plane crash that killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Smolensk, in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2016.
    FILE - Jaroslaw Kaczynski leader of ruling party Law and Justice Party attends a remembrance ceremony for the 2010 plane crash that killed Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Smolensk, in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2016.

    Kaczynski was the identical twin brother of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the governing party, Law and Justice. Since the party took power last November it has launched sweeping legal changes to the country and last month reopened an investigation into the crash, which killed 96 people.

    Macierewicz said in announcing the new probe in early February that key evidence pointing to Russian responsibility was hidden in the original Polish investigation, which took place under a government led by the rival Civic Platform party.

    The plane that crashed in April 2010 was carrying a presidential delegation to Russia for observances honoring Polish officers killed in and around Katyn by the Soviet secret police in 1940. For decades Moscow refused to acknowledge responsibility for those crimes, and the subject was a taboo for decades of Moscow-backed communist rule in Poland as well.

    Macierewicz said that Poland appeared to finally be free in 2009 to speak openly about those massacres. But "half a year later we learned that raising this issue would trigger a reaction which the modern world could not image. A reaction which caused the death of the entire Polish elite, simply the death of the Polish delegation over Smolensk flying to Katyn."

     

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora