A commission investigating the disaster accused Russia of bombing the plane but never provided evidence
The Polish Defense Ministry has shut down an investigation into a 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of Polish lawmakers and officials. The ministry accused the investigators of wasting taxpayer money to come up with “lies” about Russia’s supposed involvement in the tragedy.
Kaczynski and his wife were among 96 people on board the Polish Air Force Tu-154M that crashed outside Smolensk in western Russia on April 10, 2010, while attempting to land in thick fog. Official investigations by Polish and Russian authorities found no evidence of foul play, with both teams confirming that the pilots approached the airport too low, causing them to strike trees before reaching the runway.
Kaczynski was a member of the Law and Justice party, and when the party took power in 2015, his twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, ordered an investigation into the crash, citing popular Polish conspiracy theories blaming the incident on Moscow.
With the liberal Civic Platform back in power, the investigation was shut down on Friday, Minister of State at the Defense Ministry Cezary Tomczyk announced.
“The liquidation of the Smolensk commission is in progress,” he said at a press conference, Poland’s Onet news site reported.
“Today, December 15, is the end of lies in the name of the Polish state,” he declared. “This is the end of spending hundreds of millions of zlotys [Polish currency] on activities that have nothing to do with explaining the causes of the disaster, but have a lot to do with politics.”
“This decision should have been made a long time ago,” he concluded.
The commission made a number of outlandish accusations during its seven-year investigation. It claimed in 2020 that Russian air traffic controllers directed the plane into the trees, while a 2018 report by the commission claimed that Russian operatives planted explosives on the aircraft.
Neither accusation could be backed up by evidence, yet Kacyzinski still claimed last year that the crash was planned “at the highest levels of the Kremlin,” and that President Donald Tusk – whose Civic Platform party oversaw the initial investigation – “covered up” the incident as part of a “macabre reconciliation with Russia.”
In a speech earlier this year, Kacyzinski announced that Polish prosecutors would be tasked with investigating the crash as an assassination, and suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be charged by the International Criminal Court for his alleged involvement. Despite repeated promises, the commission never released its final report on the incident.