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    Polish Claim That Smolensk Plane Crash Was 'Terror Attack' is 'Delusional'

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    On Sunday, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz suggested that the 2010 Smolensk air catastrophe which resulted in the death of President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of top Polish officials was a 'terrorist attack'. Russian officials responded to the allegation by saying that the minister's accusation was 'unfounded' and 'delusional'.

    On April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski's Tu-154 presidential plane went down outside Smolensk, Russia, resulting in the death of the president, as well as dozens of Polish officials, who were on their way to a meeting with their Russian counterparts to pay tribute to the Polish officers killed by Soviet security forces during WWII.

    Last year, Polish investigators presented decrypted evidence from the plane's black box recordings, demonstrating that a 'third party' onboard the plane had repeatedly interfered with the work of the flight crew, entering the cockpit despite pilots' protests. The data also confirmed that Air Force General Andrzej Blasik, who was present in the cockpit until the last moment, had repeatedly pressured the pilots to make attempts to land, despite warnings of bad weather at the Smolensk military airfield, including requests from a Russian air traffic controller to divert the plane to another airport.

    On Sunday, giving a lecture at the School of Social and Cultural Media in Torun, Central Poland, Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz claimed that the air catastrophe was actually a 'terrorist attack', Radio Poland reported.

    "What happened near Smolensk was aimed at depriving Poland of its leadership, which was on a path of leading our nation to independence," the minister said. Poles, he added, "were the first victims of terrorism in the 1930s, and through Smolensk, we can say that we were also the first major victims of terrorism in modern conflict, which is unfolding before our eyes."

    Commenting on Macierewicz's remarks, Irina Yarovaya, the head of the Duma's Anti-Corruption and Security Committee, suggested that his statement was 'delusional'.

    "Such irresponsibly delusional statements are a form of psychological terrorism. Who is the Polish defense minister calling terrorists? The pilots and the Polish president, whose independent decisions and actions led to tragedy? To assess this as terrorism is to be completely delusional," Yarovaya told reporters, Russia's RIA Novosti reported Monday.

    "It's strange to see how a defense minister intends to protect his country's citizens, if he allows himself to make such false statements, taking on himself the right to unleash an information war, and destroying the foundations of trust and security," the lawmaker added. Hopefully, she noted, the Polish people are able to discern such foolish commentary from the truth.

    For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also challenged Macierewicz's remarks, calling them 'unfounded'.

    "All of us, including on the public level, had an opportunity to become acquainted with the circumstances of this terrible tragedy," Peskov said.

    "On the public level, there is a lot of information with reference to our officials, to the persons who conducted the investigation, who worked [to determine] the circumstances of the crash. Based on all this, of course, such claims can be called unfounded, biased and having nothing to do with the real circumstances of this tragedy," the spokesman added.

    This is not the first time that Macierewicz and other officials from the country's ruling Law and Justice Party government have made claims questioning the results of the official Polish government inquiry into the crash, which concluded that the crash was largely the result of pilot error.

    Conspiracy theories surrounding the catastrophe emerged shortly after the crash. In October 2012, Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reported that 'local experts' had found traces of explosives on the wreckage, something the Polish prosecutor's office soon denied. Then, in March 2015, the prosecutor's office filed charges against two Russian dispatchers, accusing them of causing the situation which led to the catastrophe. The Russian Investigative Committee rejected Warsaw's accusations.

    In February, Macierewicz announced the resumption of work by a new commission to investigate the crash. Commenting on the resumption of the investigation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that it was fully within Warsaw's right as a sovereign state, but that from Moscow's point of view, the causes of the catastrophe had already been determined. The spokeswoman recalled that for its part, Russia had demonstrated an "unprecedented level of openness" in assisting the previous investigation.

    Macierewicz became Poland's Defense Minister in November 2015, following the Law and Justice Party's victory in parliamentary elections in October. The party's leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of former President Lech Kaczynski, has repeatedly claimed that Russia had 'assassinated' his brother.

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    Tags:
    investigation report, investigation, allegations, terrorism, rhetoric, response, 2010 Polish presidential plane crash, Polish Law and Justice Political Party (PiS), Antoni Macierewicz, Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland, Russia
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