MOSCOW -Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and some of the country's most prominent military and civilian leaders died Saturday along with dozens of others when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia. Russian and Polish officials offered conflicting death tolls but agreed there were no survivors on the Soviet-era Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police. The Army chief of staff, Gen. Franciszek Gagor, National Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer were also on board, the Polish foreign ministry said. The head of Russia's top investigative body, Sergei Markin, said there were a total of 132 people on the Tu-154. Poland's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Piotr Paszkowski, said there were 89 people on the passenger list but one person had not shown up. "We still cannot fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what it means for us in the future. Nothing like this has ever happened in Poland," Paszkowski said. "We can assume with great certainty that all persons on board have been killed." The governor of the Smolensk region, where the crash took place about 11 a.m. (0700 GMT), also said no one survived. Rossiya-24 showed footage from the crash site, with pieces of the plane scattered widely amid leafless trees and small fires burning in woods shrouded with fog. A tail fin with the Polish red and white colors stuck up from the debris. "The Polish presidential plane did not make it to the runway while landing. Tentative findings indicate that it hit the treetops and fell apart," Sergei Anufriev said on state news channel Rossiya-24. "Nobody has survived the disaster." The presidential Tu-154 was at least 20 years old. Polish officials have long discussed replacing the planes that carry the country's leaders but said they lacked the funds. According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 66 crashes involving Tu-154s, including six in the past five years. The Russian carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew its Tu-154 fleet from service. The crash is likely to be a setback in Polish-Russian relations which had been improving of late after being poisoned for decades over the Katyn massacre. Russia never has formally apologized for the murders of some 22,000 Polish officers, but Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's decision to attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week in the forest near Katyn was seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation. Rossiya-24 showed hundreds of people around the Katyn monument, many were holding Polish flags, some of them were weeping. In Warsaw, Prime Minister Donald Tusk called an extraordinary meeting of his Cabinet and the national flag was lowered to half-staff at the presidential palace Poland's president is commander-in-chief of its armed forces but the position's domestic duties are chiefly symbolic. Kaczynski, 60, became president in December 2005 after defeating Tusk in that year's presidential vote. The nationalist conservative was the twin brother of Poland's opposition leader, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Kaczynski had said he would seek a second term in presidential elections this fall. He was expected to face an uphill struggle against Parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, the candidate of Tusk's governing Civic Platform party. According to the constitution, Komorowski would take over presidential duties. Kaczynski's wife, Maria, was an economist. They had a daughter, Marta, and two granddaughters. Poland, a nation of 38 million people, is by far the largest of the 10 formerly communist countries that have joined the European Union in recent years. Last year, Poland was the only EU nation to avoid recession and posted economic growth of 1.7 percent. It has become a firm U.S. ally in the region since the fall of communism — a stance that crosses party lines. The country sent troops to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and recently boosted its contingent in Afghanistan to some 2,600 soldiers. U.S. Patriot missiles are expected to be deployed in Poland this year. That was a Polish condition for a 2008 deal — backed by both Kaczynski and Tusk — to host long-range missile defense interceptors. The deal, which was struck by the Bush administration, angered Russia and was later reconfigured under President Barack Obama's administration. Under the Obama plan, Poland would host a different type of missile defense interceptors as part of a more mobile system and at a later date, probably not until 2018. Kaczynski is the first serving Polish leader to die since exiled World War II- era leader Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski in a plane crash off Gibraltar in 1943. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Saturday, "This is a horrible tragedy for Poland and we extend to the people of Poland our deepest condolences." Neighboring Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said he was "shocked and full of sadness" at Kaczynski's death. "All the German peoiple are mourning with our Polish neighbors," Westerwelle said during a visit to South Africa. — Associated Press Writers Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.
Anna Walentynowicz (b. August 13, 1929 in Równe, d. April 10, 2010 in a plane crash near Smolensk) is a Polish free trade union activist. Her firing in August 1980 was the event that led to the strike in the Gdansk Shipyard that paralyzed the Baltic coast and led to the giant wave of strikes in Poland and eventually the creation of Solidarity, of which she became a prominent member. By September nearly a million workers were on strike in support of the twenty one demands, making it the largest strike ever.
Born in 1929 and orphaned during the Second World War, Anna Walentynowicz began working in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland in 1950, first as a welder, later as a crane operator. Walentynowicz soon became disillusioned with the Polish communist party (PZPR) as she saw that workers were not allowed to organize and their concerns were not addressed. She began her campaign for justice when one of her bosses stole money from the employees and used it to participate in a lottery.
She was a member of the Free Trade Unions of the Coast in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and she also came to symbolize the opposition movement visually by appearing as a stout female worker in many propaganda posters. As editor of the Polish samizdat (bibuła) Robotnik Wybrzeza ('The Coastal Worker'), she brazenly distributed the illegal newspaper in person at the shipyard, often handing it directly to her bosses. For participation in the illegal trade union she was fired from work on 7 August 1980, 5 months before she was due to retire. This management decision enraged the workers, who staged a strike action on 14 August. In the aftermath of the strike, Anna Walentynowicz and Lech Wałęsa were returned to work, the Gdańsk Agreement was signed and soon afterward the Solidarity trade union was formed.
Several years later Anna left Solidarity, criticizing Wałęsa's policies. After the fall of communism in 1989 she still distanced herself from the union and various political parties allied with Solidarity. In 2000 she declined an honorary citizenship of the city of Gdańsk. In 2003 she asked for compensation from the government for her 1980s persecution, eventually receiving part of the sum. In January 2005 she received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom in Washington on behalf of Solidarity from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
She also appeared as herself in four movies, the most famous of those being Man of Iron by Andrzej Wajda.
She died in a plane crash near Smolensk April 2010.
Sławomir Skrzypek (10 May 1963 in Katowice – 10 April 2010) was the President of the National Bank of Poland (NBP). He died in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash.
It was in January 2007 that he was appointed to the role of President of the NBP, with a vote of 239 deputies in favor, 202 against and one abstaining. He replaced Leszek Balcerowicz. Prior to this position, he had been acting President of the managing board of PKO BP, Poland's largest bank. He had also held positions in the Supreme Chamber of Control (NIK), serving as Deputy President of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and working at Polish State Railways (PKP). He acted as a deputy to the Mayor of Warsaw between 2002 and 2005.
Janusz Bogumił Kochanowski (April 18, 1940 in Częstochowa – April 10, 2010) was a Polish lawyer, diplomat, and the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection of the Republic of Poland (Polish Ombudsman).
He was listed on the flight manifest of the Tupolev Tu-154 of the 36th Special Aviation Regiment carrying the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński which crashed near Smolensk-North airport near Pechersk near Smolensk, Russia on 10 April 2010, killing all aboard.
Janusz Bogumił Kochanowski (ur. 18 kwietnia 1940 w Częstochowie) – polski prawnik, były prezes zarządu fundacji "Ius et Lex", od 2006 Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich. Życiorys
Ukończył studia na Wydziale Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. W 1980 uzyskał stopień doktora nauk prawnych. W latach 1966–1990 pracował na tym wydziale, ponownie został jego wykładowcą w 1997.
W latach 1980–1991 należał do "Solidarności". Od 1989 do 1991 sprawował funkcję eksperta senackiej Komisji Praw Człowieka i Praworządności. Pełnił urząd konsula generalnego Polski w Londynie w Wielkiej Brytanii od 1991 do 1995. Brał udział w pracach nad nowelizacją kodeksu karnego w latach 2000–2001. W 2000 został prezesem zarządu fundacji oraz redaktorem naczelnym magazynu "Ius et Lex". W 2004 bez powodzenia kandydował z ramienia Prawa i Sprawiedliwości do Parlamentu Europejskiego w okręgu warszawskim.
26 stycznia 2006 Sejm przegłosował jego wybór na urząd Rzecznika Praw Obywatelskich (z rekomendacji Prawa i Sprawiedliwości). 30 stycznia tego samego roku jego kandydaturę zaakceptował Senat. Urząd objął 15 lutego 2006 po złożonym ślubowaniu.
The crash came as a staggering blow to Poland, killing what may be a tenth of country’s top leadership in one fiery explosion. In the numb hours after the crash, leaders in Warsaw evoked the horror of the massacre at Katyn, which stood for decades as a symbol of Russian domination of Poland. “It is a damned place,” former president Aleksander Kwasniewski told TVN24. “It sends shivers down my spine. First the flower of the Second Polish Republic is murdered in the forests around Smolensk, now the intellectual elite of the Third Polish Republic die in this tragic plane crash when approaching Smolensk airport.” “This is a wound which will be very difficult to heal,” he said.
This is the biggest tragedy in Polish poster-war history. Some people call it a curse of Katyn.
I did not agree with the policies of this president. He was an old school, he did not understand that the world is changing. He made his twin-brother to be a prime-minister in one point. Still, this is a terrific tragedy. Not sure that the president and the pilots understood the security risks of landing in fod in Smolensk