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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Polish President and Top Military Wiped Out in Plane Crash in Russia

On their way to observe 70th anniversary of Russian massacre of Polish officers by Soviets!

This is not only tragic but very strange:

Polish leader, 95 others dead in Russia jet crash
By JIM HEINTZ
Associated Press
April 10, 2010

MOSCOW – Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of the country's highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said.

Russian and Polish officials said there were no survivors on the 26-year-old Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre in Katyn forest of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

The crash devastated the upper echelons of Poland's political and military establishments. On board were the army chief of staff, national bank president, deputy foreign minister, army chaplain, head of the National Security Office, deputy parliament speaker, civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers, the Polish foreign ministry said.

Although initial signs pointed to an accident with no indication of foul play, the death of a Polish president and much of the Polish state and defense establishment in Russia en route to commemorating one of the saddest events in Poland's long, complicated history with Russia, was laden with tragic irony.

Reflecting the grave sensibilities of the crash to relations between the two countries, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally assumed charge of the investigation. He was due in Smolensk later Saturday, where he would meet Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was flying in from Warsaw.

"This is unbelievable — this tragic, cursed Katyn," Kaczynski's predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said on TVN24 television.

It is "a cursed place, horrible symbolism," he said. "It's hard to believe. You get chills down your spine."

The Katyn massacre was one of the most horrific war crimes of the 20th Century. The Soviets murdered tens of thousands of Poles in cold blood, most of them officers in the Polish Army. The horror of the crime even stunned the Nazis who discovered the mass graves after invading Russia.

It's a sad day for our friends in Poland and a sad reminder about the tragedy that has been so much a part of their recent history. It should also be a reminder to us to not forget our allies and friends. They were betrayed twice in the 20th Century. Let's not repeat that mistake. Millions of lives and the peace of the world hang in the balance!

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