Mourning in Poland

Michaela Carmein, Paul Smith

On Saturday April 10th, the Polish president’s plane crashed in a fiery explosion near Smolensk Russia. All 97 passengers on board were killed in the crash including the president, Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Maria, and the other many government officials who were on board.

The pilots attempted to land in thick fog but missed the runway and instead landed in a forest, crashing through the trees about half a mile outside of Smolensk. Allegedly air traffic controllers had told the pilots several times to continue to another airport because of the rough landing conditions. The scary coincidence, just 70 years prior, 20,000 members of Poland’s officer corps were killed in the same place. But on this day, April 10th 2010, Poland lost a large majority of it’s political and military leaders.

“It’s a national tragedy.” Ryszard Figuiski told the New York Times, “Apart from their official positions, it is also simply the loss of so many lives.”

This accident is underscored by a long-held rift between Poland and Russia, and the coincidence to the date and place of the massacre 70 years ago is eerie. However deep rooted the disagreements between Poland and Russia are, Russian citizens and government members have displayed their condolences in many ways. From Prime Minister Putin’s personal handling of the investigation of the plane crash, to flowers and sympathy sent by thousands of citizens to the Polish Embassy in Moscow.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, twin brother of former Polish president Lech Kaczynski, has recently declared his intentions to run for president in the upcoming elections in June. His intention, as he has declared, is to carry on the work and the legacy of his brother. For now, it seems uncertain which way the Polish people will vote in June, but the hope for a fresh start with the elections gives support to the Polish people