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Poland remembers Smolensk air crash five years on

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Poland remembers Smolensk air crash five years on


Poland is commemorating the fifth anniversary of its worst national tragedy since World War II – the plane crash in Russia that killed the president and dozens of others.

It comes amid reports this week suggesting members of the president’s entourage urged the crew to land despite thick fog.

Russian investigators have denied that Russian air traffic controllers were to blame, a fortnight after two were charged by Polish authorities.

Poland’s leaders had been on their way to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

At a ceremony at the Powaski military ceremony in Warsaw there were prayers and a minute’s silence for the victims.

At a separate ceremony at the presidential palace, the former leader Lech Kaczynski and his wife were also remembered.

The dead president’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski – who refused to accept the findings of the Russian investigation – paid tribute.

Altogether 96 people, including top military commanders and high-ranking officials, were killed when the plane crashed at Smolensk.

Warsaw prosecutors have dismissed as inaccurate a reported transcript of cockpit conversations.

A leaked recording suggests military and diplomatic officials put pressure on the pilots to land despite the conditions.

It also gives the impression that people in and around the cockpit – though not the crew – were drinking beer.

Polish investigators have found that the Polish pilots were primarily to blame – and that Russian air traffic controllers had given faulty guidance.

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