Be Not Afraid! Recommended Reading Smolensk

Today Georgia, Tomorrow Ukraine…

Today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, next the Baltic States

and then the time will come for my country – Poland

This prophetic statement was made by the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, during the rally in Tbilisi, in August 2008, at the time when Russia attacked Georgia.  By organizing and leading a delegation of the European leaders to Tbilisi at the time when Russian tanks were advancing towards the capital, President Kaczynski called the attention of the entire world to the Russian aggression on Georgia. As a result of this courageous intervention, the Russians stopped their assault on their small neighbor.

President Kaczynski was severely criticized at home and abroad for his stand in defense of Georgia. Russian propaganda supported by the German-led western media portrayed President Lech Kaczynski as an irresponsible radical and discredited him in the eyes of the international public opinion.

Less than two years after the Georgia crisis, the official delegation of the Republic of Poland with President Lech Kaczynski and the First Lady on board, flew to Smolensk in Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre and pay respect to the Polish victims of the mass extermination operation led by NKVD in the spring of 1940.

The delegation led by President Lech Kaczynski consisted of 20 top officials and preeminent leaders of the Polish society, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, 14 representatives of the families of the Katyn victims,  10 top generals of the Polish Armed Forces, 9 clergies, 8 representatives of the Chancellery of the President, 8 representative of the Government Protection Bureau, and 8 members of the crew.

They all perished when the Polish Air Force One disintegrated in the air over the Smolensk airport on April 10, 2010. The Russian immediately took full control of the wreckage site and began the massive worldwide disinformation operation. Within minutes of the crash, all western media pushed the pilot error scenario as the only possible cause of this disaster. Confusing the public about the legal status of the Polish Air Force One, Russia forced Poland to agree to the investigation under Annex 13 of the ICAO Convention. This move assured that the investigation was conducted outside any legal framework of law and gave Russia full and exclusive control over the evidence, and a free hand in the entire investigation process.

The body of President Lech Kaczynski and the bodies of most of the victims were desecrated, all the evidence was tampered with, and key evidence was destroyed. Poland never received the wreckage of the plane nor the black boxes.

In January 2011, Russia announced to the world results of its investigation. According to the Russians, the Polish Air Force One went down in Smolensk due to pilot error. The Russian narrative was brutal. The incompetent Polish pilot acted under the pressure of the drunk Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force, who was in the cockpit at the time of the crash forcing the pilots to land at all cost. The General, in turn, followed the order of the irresponsible President Lech Kaczynski. The Russian conclusions not only blamed Poland for causing the Smolensk disaster but also aimed at ridiculing and discrediting in the eyes of the international public opinion the office of the President of Poland, the function of the General of the Polish Army, and the Polish Pilots, the key prerogatives of the statehood of Poland.

In Smolensk, Poland lost almost the entire Central Command of the Polish Armed Forces with three top NATO generals. The Chief of Command of General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces General Franciszek Gągor was next in line to assume the Command of NATO forces in Europe.

The Russians not only killed the top Command of the Polish Armed Forces but also discredited them and desecrated the memory of the best Polish Generals. The Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force General Andrzej Blasik, who was blamed for being drunk in the cockpit at the time of the crash, was the recipient of the Legion of Merit of the United States of America awarded for exceptionally meritorious services as Commander of the Polish Air Force between 2007 and 2009 by US Secretary of Air Force and US Secretary of Defense.

In 2015 the Law and Justice Party of late President Lech Kaczynski won the majority in the Polish Parliament and set up the Polish Commission to Re-Investigate the Smolensk Disaster. The commission concluded that the Polish Air Force One disintegrated in the air due to explosions in the left wing and in the fuselage. Explosions were planted in the internal structure of the airplane. Access to these internal parts of Tupolev 154M was possible during the overhaul performed at the Aviakor Plant in Samara, Russia, shortly before the Smolensk disaster. The Aviakor Plant was owned by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a friend of Vladimir Putin. The Commission announced its findings on April 11, 2022.

Maria Szonert Binienda

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