Over a year ago Lech Kaczynski, who was Poland’s president at the time, died in a plane crash near Smolensk airport in western Russia. All 96 people on board the TU-154 Tupolev, mostly Polish officials, died when the plane crashed while trying to land in heavy fog.
They were on their way to attend a ceremony for the victims of Katyn, where 20,000 Poles were killed by soviet forces in 1940. (map, from bbcimg.co.uk)
In January a Russian report put all the blame on Poland, saying that under pressure from their superiors the crew had taken unjustified risks.
But now a Polish report says that although pilot error was the main reason for the crash, Russia was partly to blame because air controllers and poor lighting at Smolensk were also at fault.
According to the Warsaw report the pilot lacked experience in landing aircraft in adverse weather conditions, and the crew was not adequately equipped.
But the report added that airport lighting was “defective and incomplete”, and that the crew while preparing to land in poor weather received “erroneous information” from a landing zone official. The report says that the crew was misinformed about their true altitude by air traffic controllers during the approach, who then gave a crucial warning too late.
And the Polish said there was no evidence that anyone on the plane had put pressure on the pilots.
After being largely commended, Russia’s handling of the crash later became a source of tension between the two countries.
In the wake of the report’s criticism of the crew, Poland’s defence minister Bogdan Klich’s resignation was accepted by the country’s prime minister Donald Tusk.
He has been replaced by Tomasz Siemoniak, a deputy interior minister, Mr Tusk told reporters.