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Demise of Polish leaders en route to pay tribute to massacred troops shock world.

Tragic demise of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, an ardent struggler against Communism, along with his wife and senior military officers and more than 90 passengers in the plane crash earlier on Saturday prompted neighboring Russia to declare a day of mourning on Monday.Other nations, namely Britain, expressed deep shock and sadness at the death of president, his spouse and the other passengers who were aboard the ill-fated aircraft that crashed near the western Russian Smolensk Airport.However, the atmosphere of distress appeared particularly prevalent in Russia, apparently as a result of historic grievances and geopolitical ties bounding the two neighbors. Despite some deep-rooted wounds in the neighbors' ties, Poland has remained in the eyes of many Russians as a strategic backyard.Addressing the grieving Polish people, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged in a televised statement to conduct thorough investigations into circumstances of the accident and voiced solidarity with the families of the victims. He affirmed that the Russian people were deeply shocked at this tragic accident.The distressing accident touched deep in hearts of nations, particularly the Poles, for it occurred on the occasion of a historic sad event. On board of the Tupolev Tu-154 was Kaczynski, his wife, the military chief of staff and other top officers, central bank governor, deputy foreign minister, members of parliament and senior officials. They were flying to attend a memorial ceremony for thousands of Polish troops massacred by Russian forces in World War II.Medvedev telephoned the Polish Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski expressing sorrow for the demise of the victims, namely the president, "as a loss that cannot be compensated." Polish authorities have declared a week of public mourning and the media indicated that the Prime Minister Donald Tusk was heading to the crash site on the outskirts of the Russian city of Smolensk, some 400 kilometers west of the Russian capital, Moscow.Several Russian officials have already arrived at the scene of the crash upon orders of the president who instructed all authorities to take all possible measures to deal with repercussions of the event.For his part, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin contacted his Polish counterpart, expressing deep condolences on the demise of the senior and junior Poles. A government spokesman stated the two sides agreed on holding continuous contacts to follow up on details of the plane crash.Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the death of the Polish president as a tragic accident. Russia would do whatever necessary to tackle consequences of this accident, he said.Asserting the deep concern among the Russian decision-making circles, the Russian news agency, Novosti, said the leadership formed an emergency operations room to supervise the post-crash operations. All bodies of the passengers would be transported to Moscow for identification and some necessary legal paper work.Witnesses said the plane that was flying across foggy skies hit high trees before crashing into pieces over a wooded region.The Polish leaders were en route to the Russian town of Katyn, located on the outskirts of Smolensk to take part in a somber ceremony in homage to souls of 20,000 Polish soldiers and officers who were killed during the Stalin era.Over 20,000 Polish officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were killed in the Katyn forest in 1940, as well as in prisons and other locations by the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB. The Soviet Union acknowledged the massacre in 1990. Modern Russia also recognized Soviet responsibility for the mass shooting, but has not classified it as a war crime, something Warsaw has demanded.The atmosphere of sadness spread rapidly to several capitals. In London, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said sadness is prevailing across the whole world as a result of the death of the Polish president and other passengers of the ill-fated plane.Eulogizing the late president, Brown said he had given much sacrifices for the unity of his nation. He had suffered a lot from Communism but he struggled for sake of his nation and homeland.The leader of the opposition Conservative Party, David Cameron, branded Saturday as "a black day" as a result of the death of the Polish leaders and the other people on board of the plane.Leaders of the Polish community in the UK are due to gather at the Polish information center tonight to lay symbolic wreathes for souls of the demised.In Rabat, King Mohammad VI addressed a cable of condolences to Lech Kaczynski, the chairman of the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament offering condolences on the demise of the president, his spouse and the other leaders.The monarch expressed solidarity with the grieving Polish people.He paid tribute to the late president who led his nation with his wisdom through an important phase of the nation history.Kaczynski, born in June 1949, was elected head of state in December 2005. A committed Catholic, he studied law before entering into politics. He was a supporter of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa when the trade union rose up against Poland's Communist leadership.

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Date:Apr 10, 2010
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