Today is the fifth anniversary of the crash of the TU-154 in Smolensk, killing all those on board among whom was the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, his wife and a number of other high-placed military and civilian personnel. They were on their way to take part in a memorial to the victims of Katyn and the crash occurred close to that place. (This blog noted the event at the time.)
There is a good analysis on the BBC Russian Service about the situation with regards to the Smolensk crash at the moment. It is in Russian but if you ask Mr Google nicely he will translate it for you into gobbledygook masquerading as English. Anyway, it will be comprehensible.
On the whole opinion seems to be divided and, as it happens, I was told not so long ago by a Polish lady who lives and works in Britain that many people say that there is something odd about that crash. I pointed out that Russia had nothing to gain from killing Kaczynski who was going to sign an agreement after the Katyn memorial event and, in any case, even if he was not over-popular his death changed nothing. It's not that I cannot imagine the Russian government ordering his murder, I explained but there has to be a reason. The mass murder of Polish officers in 1940 was an eminently rational decision; the bringing down of the TU-154 was not.
For all of that there are many in Poland, particularly supporters of the Law and Justice Party. Others maintain that it was an accident, there being rather a lot of fog at the time. From the very beginning there were rumours that President Kaczynski who was known for high-handed actions and whom pilots disliked intensely insisted on the aeroplane landing where it did despite the dangerous situation.
This week the Polish radio station RMF FM broadcast hitherto unheard recordings from the pilot's cabin that supported that theory with journalists concluding that the President's aides were putting pressure on the pilot to begin his descent to the Smolensk aerodrome, Severny, despite the thick fog. Military prosecutors, on the other hand, pronounced the recording to be unreliable.
Meanwhile the investigation that is being conducted by the Polish military procurator has been extended for another six months. Meanwhile, the country has yet another tragedy to mourn. Anyone would think Polish history was not already full of them.
CORRECTION: I have been told by a journalist friend who has been working on the story that I made a mistake in this account. RMF FM did not broadcast the recordings. Only a "murky and ambiguous" text version was leaked to them, together with some unverified additions. The Polish military prosecutors have insisted that the RFM'a interpretations of the text are inaccurate and taken out of context.