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Poland blames Russian air controllers in 2010 crash

The crash in Katyn, Russia, killed 96 people.

By Ed Adamczyk
Poland blames Russian air controllers in 2010 crash
Polish President Lech Kaczynski died in 2010 plane crash. Photo courtesy of Polish Presidential Archives/wikimedia.org

WARSAW, Poland, March 27 (UPI) -- Two Russian air traffic controllers are among those charged in a military investigation of a 2010 plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

The military prosecutors said bad weather was the primary cause of the crash, which killed 95 people on their way to Katyn, Russia.

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However, the report released Friday blamed Russian flight controllers in Smolensk for putting the plane at risk and Polish officials with selecting an unqualified flight crew. Details of the charges were not revealed, and in referring to the Russians, prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag said, "It is not our role to estimate chances for these men coming to Poland" for interrogation and trial.

Russia rejected the results of the Polish investigation, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement after its own probe "found no violations in the actions of the air-traffic control team." Committee spokesman Vladimir Merkin added transcripts indicate the plane's crew ignored Russian warnings.

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The crash wiped out much of the upper echelons of Poland's government and provoked a deterioration of relations between Warsaw and Moscow, made worse by Russia actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

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The investigative report, which took five years to compile, was released as Poland is in the midst of an election campaign between the Civic Platform party, currently ruling the government, and the conservative Law and Justice party, a group distrustful of Moscow and of the belief the government has not done enough to explain the circumstances of the crash, which may have included an assassination plot against Kaczynski.

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