Polish President Lech Kaczynski Killed In Plane Crash <


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Polish President Lech Kaczynski Killed In Plane Crash

Mike Mitchell

April 10, 2010 - Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria Kaczyńska and military and civilian leaders died when the presidential jet, crashed as it was coming in for a landing one mile short of at Smolensk airport under heavy fog in western Russia today about 11 am (0700 GMT. Russian and Polish officials have reported there were no survivors and the death toll is at 96. The current acting president is Bronisław Komorowski. A government spokesman said Poland will hold an early presidential election after Kaczynski's death.

President Kaczynski and his wife were visiting western Russia for events marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which 22,000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet secret police. Russia never has formally apologized for the atrocities. However, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week which is seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation.

Poland's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Piotr Paszkowski, said "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."

Regional governor Sergei Anufriev said “The Polish presidential plane did not make it to the runway while landing. Tentative findings indicate that it hit the treetops and fell apart nobody has survived the disaster."

The presidential jet a Tupolev Tu-154 is a Soviet medium-range trijet airliner designed in the mid 1960s. One of the notable civilian aircraft of its era, the Tu-154 has been the mainstay 'workhorse' of Soviet airlines for several decades. The presidential aircraft was at lease 20 years old. Polish officials have long discussed replacing the plane the country. The Russian carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew its Tu-154 fleet from service.

Poland is a democracy, with a president as a head of state, whose current constitution dates from 1997. The government structure centers on the Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the Sejm. The president is elected by popular vote every five years.

It is reported that among the passengers included Army chief of staff, Gen. Franciszek Gagor, National Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer.
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