Tags: brother | twin | poland | president

Twin Brother May Take Polish President’s Place

Monday, 12 April 2010 10:18 PM

President Kaczynski rang his brother Jaroslaw from the cabin of his official Tupolev 154 jet. “It’s all going according to plan,” he said. “We’ll be landing in a few minutes.” A little over 30 minutes later, at 8.56am, the aircraft crashed in Smolensk. None of the 96 passengers and crew survived.

Jaroslaw, the older of the twins by 45 seconds, has been wrenched out of one of Europe’s strangest political partnerships. Now he has to decide whether to continue their work by standing for the now-vacant presidency.

The question of how to continue is not unique to Mr Kaczynski, 60. The crash has removed a large segment of the governing class and Poland is having to wrestle with the problem of how to keep a modern state functioning without leaders.

But the dilemma for Mr Kaczynski is the most poignant. He was told of the crash soon after that last call with his brother. The Foreign Minister, Radek Sikorski, phoned saying: “I have terrible news for you.”

Within hours Mr Kaczynski was on his way to Russia with the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, to identify the body. Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, asked if he could go along as well; Mr Kaczynski declined. Identifying the body of a brother — one who looks, apart from a mole, exactly like you — would have been an intensely personal experience.

The twins had what has been called a near-telepathic understanding. They would finish each other’s sentences. When Lech was President and Jaroslaw was Prime Minister the head of state would sometimes reach for the telephone before it rang, sensing that his twin was trying to make contact.

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Monday, 12 April 2010 10:18 PM
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