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The Polish delegation was killed by VIP-factor, through Google Translate (corrected):

"The commander of the flight, of course, is in charge and only he decides what to do," said [aviation expert] Akimenkov AM. But he couldn't help remembering a case where the pilot did not listen to Kaczynski and refused to land in Tbilisi, paying for that with his career. Naturally, the Polish president was eager to get to Katyn, to arrive on time, and certainly it was he who forced the pilot to land in Smolensk, imposing his decision.

In August 2008 Kaczynski's pilot refused to put the liner in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, as requested by the president. On board that day were heads of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine, sent on a visit to Georgia. Kaczynski wanted the jet to fly "directly in Tbilisi, to meet as soon as possible with President Mikheil Saakashvili.  Despite the fact that the pilot was following the flight plan of the presidential plane, predetermined by Kaczynski's office and not allowing for a landing in Tbilisi, Mr. Kaczynski demanded that the pilot land at the airport. However, the pilot did not risk the lives of VIP-passengers in a complex political situation and the lack of diplomatic arrangements to fly to Tbilisi. The plane landed near the capital of Azerbaijan in the city of Ganja, and senior passengers traveled to Tbilisi by car. 'We will sort things out, at the highest level,' Kaczynski indignantly said at the time. According to unofficial information, the pilot was fired."

That the only possible reason for the catastrophe was pressure from VIPs aboard the plane is also the view of another expert, Distinguished Military Navigator of the USSR, who has investigated more than 50 accidents, who asked that his name not be mentioned in the media.

"The captain and copilot can sincerely be sympathized with," he told GZT.RU. "When Smolensk said it would be better to go to another airport, 105 percent, he went to the suite of the president, there is no doubt about it. And again after two aborted landings... Usually in this case one goes to an alternate airport. There was clearly pressure from the president or the head of the Air Force. The pilot's situation is desperate - get fired, or follow orders. But when a pilot is at the peak of his powers, he wants to work. The pilot, most likely, was taken out of a calm state. It is possible that someone even entered the cockpit and made an impression on him.

The interlocutor of GZT.RU is sure that pilot error in the TU-154 was caused by flying VIPs, but this will most likely never be publicly revealed. He noted with displeasure the undue haste with which high-ranking Russian officials arrived at the scene.

"The rules of aircraft accident investigation are clearly written concerning how a commission is created and who composes it," he clarified. "Investigators, prosecutors must cooperate with the commission, rather than forestalling it. The Commission should consist of experts - pilots and engineers who have experience with this type of aircraft. Transport prosecutors are always tuned to prosecuting the pilot, instead of figuring out what led to suboptimal actions in fact," he said. "If three independent investigators were allowed access to the radio transmissions, the transcript would clearly show what happened. But the ministers will have it under lock and key, and no one will ever know any details."


In other words, the Russians are not going to embarrass the Polish government by revealing that their president killed half of the government.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 03:46:31 PM EST
A couple of posts at HuffingtonPost by someone in Poland:

It has been said on the Polish radio that no civilian pilot would have agreed to land and military pilots would only "attempt" to land under strict orders (remember, the commander in chief as well as the heads of all the military branches were on board - there has since been back-pedaling and possible blame shifting - as it is being reported that the pilot would have final judgment which stretches credibility). It totally fits with Kaczynski's bravado style to have ordered the pilot to land and that it would have been unacceptable to him to arrive in the less dignified manner of by bus after landing at another airport - especially in Russia - he was very much into pomp and political ceremony or late and thus miss the event - if they had gone to Minsk they would have been stuck on the tarmac for hours as they were not prepared for the security. It just fits Kaczynski's rash style that they decided to attempt anyway even with repeated aborted attempts.
It will be very interesting to see what happens politically as this has almost completely wiped out the extreme right-wing as it has become clear that is who comprised the bulk of the passenger list (with a few very notable exceptions) - it should be known that Kaczynski was in the habit of showing up at events such as EU summits unannounced to which Tusk had been invited as the official representative causing much confusion and embarrassment - the official Katyń memorial with Tusk (the Prime Minister who actually runs the administration of the country) and Putin along with Lech Wełęsa and the cultural elite such as Andrzej Wajda took place last Tuesday (Putin even acknowledging Katyń being a huge step forward in Russian-Polish relations). The plane was a Kaczynski/PIŚ (Kaczynski's right-wing political party) organized secondary 'patriotic/religious' event (to be honest, I think the first event was about Polish-Russian reconciliation where this event was about nationalism) and was thus a concentration of people from that party - talking with a Polish friend here (in Poland) last night who had lived in the US, she encapsulated it well: it is very equivalent to if when Bush was in office if he, his staff and the GOP leadership, and right-wing religious leaders had all been on the same flight and only Cheney was left - in the form of Kaczynski's more ambitious twin. Where it will go, who knows....


A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 04:34:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't seen this mentioned in the Western media:

After the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski journalists drew attention to several facts that preceded the current disaster. In particular, in January 2008, tragedy struck when the military transport aircraft CASA-295M with the high command of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Szczecin. The plane crashed while landing, falling from a height of 200 meters. It caught fire in the woods about 800 meters from the aerodrome. Passengers of the plane were the participants of the annual conference on aviation safety. [!] Moreover, the pilot of the CASA-295M made several attempts to land in difficult weather conditions. Evidently, no conclusions were drawn from this tragedy.

Black days in Poland

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 05:10:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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