Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed early Saturday along with his wife, several top military officials, and the head of the national bank when their plane crashed at a western Russian airport, officials said.
“There are no survivors,” said Sergey Antufyev, the [acting] governor of Smolensk, where the plane was trying to land when it crashed.
A spokesman for Poland’s Foreign Ministry, Piotr Paszkowski, said earlier that it was probable that everyone on board was killed.
President Kaczynski and his party were on their way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre; the site at Katyn has become the visible symbol of the atrocity where twenty thousand Polish officers captured during the Soviet Union’s sneak attack on Poland were secretly executed by the NKVD* (ancestor to the KGB), and has strong resonances to modern, post-Warsaw Pact Poland. While the continuity of government in Poland has not been completely compromised (as is common in Europe, the head of government is the Prime Minister, who was not on the flight), the Polish military has been devastated by this – as has been Poland generally.
The President of the United States and other world leaders have released statements of sympathy and condolences to Poland – as do we; Kaczynski and Poland were and are true friends to the United States. Our prayers and sympathies go out to that country.
*No Russian government has yet to admit this to be a war crime.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.