Smolensk – cloudy with a chance of severe turbulence

Here we go!

Head of the newly-formed Law and Justice Smolensk committee, Antoni Macierewicz has described the catastrophe, in which President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died, as a “crime”.

In the first public gathering of the committee since its founding earlier in July, Macierewicz said that the political responsibility in light of documents gathered on the Smolensk catastrophe “is clear.”. “I will return to the matter later,” Macierewicz retorted when asked by journalists on what he meant by “crime,” adding, however, that “I have no doubts, that what we have here is is a situation which is so dreadful […] that every word which inflates the drama is justified.”

I had a feeling we had not heard the last of this “by a long chalk” and it appears to be the case. I’ve been waiting patiently for the findings of the investigations into the crash, as I’m sure we all have. We’ve been given interesting snippets about there being people other than the pilots in the cab at the time of the crash but are a very long way short of being given any kind of the comprehensive explanation that I think we all deserve.

I’ve not read up on this latest twist yet but it looks like we have in the blue corner, those saying “I told you so” that the pilots were ordered to land in impossible conditions and in the red corner those claiming to have discovered “a crime” allied with vague threats of “political responsibility”.

I’m actually torn between wanting to get to the bottom of this and just letting the whole sorry tale die a natural death.

Can anyone with a deeper knowledge of the players here advise what games are now being played and why?

The story I got the quote from is here.

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34 thoughts on “Smolensk – cloudy with a chance of severe turbulence

  1. Just ask one question – let’s say a plane carrying ONE British Parliamentary has crushed in a territory of a foreign country.

    Can you imagine for a second that the investigation is turned over to the host country, and the GB officials do not take part in it?

    This is obviously a banana republic, or on the best way to becoming one. I don’t like JarKacz and I didn’t vote for PIS – but I have to admit that they didn’t take orders, or at least they TRIED not to.

    oh, and 5 or so years ago the President of Macedonia died in a crush just like this: there was a mist or there was no mist, they flew too low or too late, and they all died.

    This is the world we live in. People go missing. You can now easily guess what do we think about the North Stream, about the gas pipe that goes through Poland to Germany and we have no access to it, and about an intercontinental grade of cable internet that we have not access to, that is attached to the pipe.

  2. Sigh. It’s complicated.

    Long story short, some people are batshit crazy, and Macierewicz is one of those. They have always been present in Polish politics, and they have always been conspiracy theorist witchhunters. They have always been radical, loud, and violent in their statements, if not actions.

    Macierewicz himself was involved in a very dirty spy scandal back in 1992, which led to the government he was part of being overthrown overnight (i.e. the parliament passed a vote of non-confidence). Many people think it was an attempted coup, only they have trouble agreeing as to who coup-ed whom.

    Now Macierewicz et al. strongly believe the crash was an act of murder. Long story short, Smolensk is their Area 51, and L. Kaczyński is their J. F. Kennedy.

    One of their most spectacular theories regarding the crash claims there were two Tupolev airplanes. The actual presidential delegation was kidnapped and flown deep into Russia, then killed. Then another Tupolev was deliberately crashed near Smolensk as a cover-up.

    Those people have been very active in Polish politics ever since the crash. They’ve been consitent in their attempts to escalate the issue. The committe is just one instance. You heard less from them during the presidential campaign, because Law and Justice took a moderate stance in it, in order to draw support from the non-crazy people. But Law and Justice itself is internally divided, and it never could fully control those people anyway.

    I could be cynical and say they’re escalating the issue so they can gain power without actually winning an election (which they are unable to do because they’re batshit crazy and there aren’t enough of them).

    But I think a more fair assessment is that they’re just batshit crazy and they’re waging an imaginary war against imaginary foes.

  3. Handing investigation over to the country where the crash occurred is a standard international procedure. There’s a convention for these kinds of things. It’s not like Russians are not being cooperative. For instance, the black boxes were first opened in the presence of Polish officials, and copies of all the recordings were made immediately.

  4. In my mind it is clear that one or both Kaczynskis are responsible. Why?
    The plane was airworthy.
    The pilots were the best there are.
    The weather and the airport infrastructure were not good, but the pilots, if left alone, would make the right decision and land somewhere else. They were not left alone…

    Kaczynski was the worst kind of commander in chief to have: pushy, needy, quarrelsome, manipulative, careless, living in the past. He is responsible for those deaths, because he tried to bend reality according to his needs. For the last time.

    Now his brother and the “Law and Justice” gang are trying to pass the buck. As usual.

  5. There are many things not cleared up about the “crash”.
    1. Look at the passengers list of this flight: i have never heard before that so many generals and officials were on board of one airplane. Next to say that most head members of Pis were on the plane but few of other parties – or if so most of them canceled the flight short before takeoff
    2. The blackbox case. The blackboxes havent been returned immidiatelly – 2 of three within 2 weeks – and the third i havent read that it was even returned physically – just a paper as far as i remember.
    3. Crash site: have you seen the Photos of the crach site?did you know that the missing landing system bad been installed there just two weeks before -when Putin and tusk landed there?
    4. Destroyed front of the plane appears In photos
    5. What about this misterous Internet video that appeared just two days after the crash on which you see the crashsite and hear shots fired In the air?
    6. Why have thebodies of the victims of the “accident” been transported to moscow first and then returned to poland one week later?
    7. What happened to the chief navigator of smolensk that dissapeared short after the crash?
    8. Why was there no ambulance for hours after the crash but just one hour after the crash all media replied that no one had survived?
    9. Why was there instantly a cordon of soldiers surpressing tresspassers to enter the crashsite – where did they come from In that short time?
    10. Why did the military Police take the cameras and even pens from the reporters that have been waiting for the arrival of the officials?
    11. The flight logs handed to poland dont agree with the course reported by the media.
    … and there are many more things that need to be cleared up, i cant believe that everything is just a cospiracy theory.

  6. Pingback: Fly to Poland » Blog archive » Poland: Confusing conspiracies

  7. Uh Conrad,

    Don’t you think the relatively large number of PiS passengers was the result of Kaczynski inviting more of them than other folks?

    Aside from that, what the hell are you talking about?

  8. Apparently it is, because part of points you are giving have an painfully easy and logical explanation (mostly circling around investigation regulations, the fact that it WAS a military airfield or that it was more or less Lech Kaczynski’s private visit to Smolensk and he was the one organizing the flight) and another part consists of stuff only existing in heads of those believing that there was a conspiracy…

  9. Point to you if its true that he wrote the invitations – thing is that i dont really. Do you know who actually is responsible for invitations? If so, send me the source of information please.
    Dont misunderstand me: it could be crime, it could be an accident also – but from the first moment on the most of the anwers given to my question couldnt satisfy me.
    My only whish is to clear things up, and there are still many questions not being answered.
    What am i talking about?
    There is a simple but yet uncomfortable answer: many people that were working for the old regime still have their positions and influences and it is possible that many of them even have contacts to KGB.
    Of course we probably will never know if this is true or not, but as a matter of fact its something we cant just deny without having complete evidence also.
    Fact is that Kaczynski was a very controversial person and i am sure many people wanted to see him disappear.
    I didnt agree with many things he did – but there were some good things as well.
    Its scaring me that just only 20 years ago probably the whole west would think that it was a russian operations – and now everybody who is just asking some questions is being suspened into the conspirationist corner.
    Is the idea of russia as an aggressor so rediculous, in times where even america is owning its guantanamo camp? Do you really think they doing less? Have you ever looked accross the border whats going on In their minds?
    Again, i am not talking that it wasnt definetly an accident, but im still asking questions whilst most of the media are just muted.
    Arent you curious about the answers?

  10. To his dying day, Mohammed Al-Fayed will believe that his son Dodi, his girlfriend Princess Diana and his unborn grandchild with which she was pregnant were all murdered by the British Establishment. No amount of investigation will convince him (and the the conspiracy theorists circling around the death of Princess Di) otherwise.

    Sigh.

    I fear we’ll have the same thing about Smolensk. There’s a hardcore (mainly people who are fundamentally nationalist-Catholics) who will, as a matter of faith, argue until all reason is exhausted, that it was murder.

    Princess Di claimed in the final months of her life, that she was in danger.

    Wearing a seatbelt would have saved her life and that of Dodi Al-Fayed and their chauffeur.

    Flying to an alternative airfield would have saved the lives of Lech and Maria Kaczyński and 94 others.

    If it was one huge Russian trap, it evidently did not occur to anyone on flight deck that discretion would be the better part of valour.

  11. Brave words. Maybe everything is conspiracy. But about what evidence are you talking about? What proves you’re right? I just dont get the point YOU are talking about. All i hear are two statements – everyone who has a different opinion believes in conspiracy (is rasistic, catholic etc etc – no i am In fact non of this, second the pilots were told to land, sorry i havent read none of these in the official blackbox log – just pilots making jokes of the russian guy at the Airport, checking tech Stuff, at least swearin and cursing.
    Please clear things up for me if you know instead telling me stories if Diana, elvis on mars and stuff like this…
    Btw.: if you know history, you should know about the former “conspiracy” at the same place – and we were also told not to talk about it because its all fascism propaganda

  12. ‘There is a simple but yet uncomfortable answer: many people that were working for the old regime still have their positions and influences and it is possible that many of them even have contacts to KGB.’

    In your tiny, paranoid brain perhaps. I’d love to see you provide any evidence of this.

    Smolensk was nothing more than a stupid, easily preventable accident. A headstrong, arrogant president hell-bent on making a campaign photo-op and displaying the usual Polish lack of common sense and disdain for safety precautions.

  13. Konrad, ask yourself this: Is there perhaps a reason why we don’t see other countries putting 96 of their most important people on one airplane and then trying to land it in poor weather against the advice of the ground controllers and the best instincts of the pilots? Can you think of any reasons why that’s not standard operating procedure?

  14. Konrad, do you really think that the President of Poland would have written the invitations himself? And that’s the only proof you’ll accept? That’s silly.

    Who else but the president (maybe along with his brother) would in the final say have had the power to make the decision who to invite? Don’t you think that ultimately Kaczynski would have gone up and down the list and made sure that just the people he wanted to be on the plane were invited?

  15. @Tony: i cant remember such “landing procedures” in other countries, but you miss my point: what was the source of information about the presidents order? The tower In smolensk? I could not find any evidence of such command in the blackbox logs.
    @smashing butterflies: what a stupid question! Of course i dont believe such things. But still i am asking who was responsible for the flight list? This answer might clear up a lot of questions… we still dont know it.

    I personaly the whole conversation had the wrong turn: we are not talking about kaczynskis death. We are talking about the head generals, chief of central bank, symbolic figures like Anna Walentynowicz, the head of pis, the president and many others. We’re talking also of evident lack of investigation.
    Imagine a german flight with the president, chief generals, chief members of SPD, chief of the Deutsche bank and, well lets say helmut kohl dying on such a plane? (you can switch germany with any other country).
    Do you really the media and people would accept as evidence that horst köhler (ok maybe Angela merkel fits better In that place) commanded the pilots to land and you wouldnt even have an evidence where the information came from? Most probably not!
    Why isn’t anyone interrested in clearing this urgent questions up? The only thing i hear from the opposite direction are just stupid replies of the common arguments without giving only one evident source!
    The only thing we know for sure is that a plane has crashed, that the weather was bad, the blackboxes were handed out to poland AFTER the russians made their investigations and that the investigations at the crashsite were made by the russians either.
    Just tell me some facts and name the sources to make me change my opinion.
    Again: who said that Kaczyński ordered the pilots to land?And why is everyone asking only about his death and not this many others?
    Feeling like in this bad joke:
    radio: one guy is driving in the wrong direction on the speedway!
    Driver: just one? I see thousands!!!

  16. @Ian: Who knows?
    Hard to say with this few facts we got at the moment.
    And things are far away of being clear.

    All i say: its just too easy to blame the president at the moment.
    We dont even know who dropped the information first that he gave a command to land…

  17. The truth may never come out. However, the Captain was in charge of the flight. It was his decision alone to try and land. And he should not be listening to any of the passengers regardless of station. He has the experience and responsibility.

  18. In principle I agree with you, Kuba, but the sheer mass of people siting behind him who all held significant office, Presidential & military, would have been pretty hard to ignore. Especially when they are standing in the cabin with you!

  19. to get you a feeling what i am talking about:
    http://freeisoft.pl/?p=27816
    thats the tower in smolensk. Ok i hear already people saying: “because its a military landing spot!”
    and you are right. But now i am asking why there are none of these “ugly pictures” shown in the press? Ive got more of them…
    Everyone looking at such a tower is damn right asking if everything was ok with Equipment at that place…

    But many people ignore these facts, instead asking – just ignoring calling it “let the story die a natural way”…

  20. And especially when the last pilot who had opposed President ended up with nervous breakdown… That kiiiiiind of speaks of something…

  21. They aren’t removed from the net, don’t they? I’d like to remind you, that if there was conspiracy, especially somewhere high in the ‘food chain’ we probably wouldn’t be able to stumble upon such pictures anywhere on the Net or else.
    And Russians have one hell of good hackers.

  22. Yes, standard procedure.

    And one would not expect any other action unless of course this was a not a civil aircraft, not under civil jurisdiction but a military and diplomatic plane (as per an embassy is Polish territory). Oh and also you wouldn’t expect it if there was a prior agreement between both countries which covered military flights.

    I don’t suppose that could be the reason why the governments diplomatic mission aircraft piloted by military personnel are so designated i.e. in order that it did not come under civil procedures.

  23. Wrong – government organised the flight (L.K. was attending the official ceremonies at Katyń). They and BOR are responsible for organising transport for all government officials as well as ensuring backup. This includes getting Russian navigator on board, security personnel in ATC, backup car at backup airport etc etc.

  24. The hardcore element of the PiS crowd seem determined to prove conspiracy. If it is now so patently obvious (to them anyway) that a trap had been set up – why was it not so patently obvious to them beforehand to avoid it?

  25. For those of you who read Polish, it’s worth following the thread on the Lotnictwo.pl forum:

    http://lotnictwo.net.pl/3-tematy_ogolne/15-wypadki_i_incydenty_lotnicze/24626-2010_04_10_tu_154_samolot_prezydenta_rp_rozbil_sie_pod_smolenskiem.html

    I’m a registered member of this forum for two years; I call by here mainly to see what interesting planes are landing/have landed at Okęcie.

    The Smolensk thread (over 1,700 posts, nearly 2 million reads, 87 pages long) is interesting from the point of view of who’s contributing. The nutters have been cleared out early on, leaving knowledgable aviation experts to pose questions and analyse information coming from the enquiry.

    The guys I know from the forum (who registered well before April 2010) are pretty much unanimous; the disaster was a result of poor weather, pilot bravado, pressure from above to land, poor communications with the tower, poor procedures on board and in tower, poor all-weather landing facilities at airport.

  26. I observe the same phenomenon as you describe but attribute it to the behaviour of the government with respect to the opposition and the way the investigation has been handled by them. Further fuelling the animosity between PO and PiS is the fact that MAK and the people connected with it have a clear conflict of interests and that in retrospect there have been many failings by the government in their organisation of the trip (never mind not completing the purchase of new planes or servicing the Tupolevs in Russia). All these provide the perfect conditions for speculation.

  27. polkaontheisland says:

    “Just ask one question – let’s say a plane carrying ONE British Parliamentary has crushed in a territory of a foreign country.

    Can you imagine for a second that the investigation is turned over to the host country, and the GB officials do not take part in it?”

    Yes, easily.

    Assuming GB officials to be rational, of course.

    “You can now easily guess what do we think about the North Stream, about the gas pipe that goes through Poland to Germany and we have no access to it, and about an intercontinental grade of cable internet that we have not access to, that is attached to the pipe.”

    It is not easy to guess what stupid and irrational people think.

    Although it can give us the occasional belly laugh.

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