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Russia's Crash Report Stirs Polish Politics

Friday, 14 January 2011 09:59 AM

WARSAW - The crash last spring of a plane carrying Poland's president and other top officials outside the Russian city of Smolensk unexpectedly drew Poland and Russia closer together. Now, Russia's report on the crash is driving the longtime antagonists apart again - and dividing Polish politicians, too, The Washington Post reports.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk cut short a trip Thursday to return to Warsaw, where he attempted to contain the anger building here over the report's findings, published a day earlier. The Russian investigators blamed Polish pilots for the crash, which killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, and suggested they were pressured into attempting a landing by a Polish general who had been drinking on the flight.

Good relations with Russia are too important to throw away, Tusk said. At the same time, he said, "the alternative to truth is a lie, and these relations can't be built on a lie."

He said he does not contest the "reasons" for the crash, as identified in the report, but wants to address its "circumstances," which he said the report ignores, including Smolensk's airport being kept open despite bad weather and the possible role of Russian air traffic controllers.

Tusk said he wants to open negotiations with Russia over a rewrite. "It's not about some false symmetry," he said. "It's important for Polish-Russian relations to have common agreement and get rid of all doubts."

That brought a swift retort from Polish opposition lawmakers. Tusk was acting too late and attempting too little, said Stanislaw Wziatek of the Democratic Left Alliance. He accused the prime minister of "wishful thinking" and said he should have started pressuring the Russians before the inquiry's report was released.

Read the entire story at washingtonpost.com

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Friday, 14 January 2011 09:59 AM
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