Saturday, April 10, 2010


 Polish President Lech Kaczynski and several other high level government officials died in a plane crash near Smolensk (Russia). A big tragedy for Poland, a country that already got its share of political catestrophes in the past.

Poland mourns. A tragic plane crash in Smolensk decapitated the Polish government. President Lech Kaczynski died in it, just like his wife Maria. But the president of the Central Bank and the highest army representative of the country, the Chief of the General Staff, were also on board of the plane that was heading for Katyn to commemorate the massacre of 20,000 high level Polish officers by Joseph Stalin's secret police some 70 years ago. Prime Minister Donald Tusk cried when he heard the news. Tusk visited Katyn 3 days earlier for a ceremony with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who wanted to make it clear that Russia distinguishes itself from the war-time events.

Kaczynski was a man of high integrity who was clearly anti-communist just as much as he was anti-Russian and anti-German. He was an advocate of Polish nationalism, a nationalism that is now hurt in a broader meaning of the word. It was sad to see the decapitation of the government at a time when Poland was preparing for new presidential elections in October. Kaczynski would be facing a tough battle with Bronislaw Komorowski, a candidate closely associated with Prime Minister Tusk. 


Komorowsky (see picture to the right), the speaker of the Polish lower house is now the President until the new presidential elections that are scheduled for an earlier date now, due to the sad event.

Replacing the president, the highest army representative and the central bank governor plus some other high level government officials. Isn't it strange that all of them were allowed to fly in the same plane? Many multinational corporations wouldn't allow their highest level officials to travel together in one plane.

The cursed plane crashed in Smolensk after trying to land 4 times in difficult, foggy circumstances. It was clearly a tragic accident. Initial thoughts that there might be terrorists involved were quickly dismissed.

Poland has suffered a difficult political history and this new blow is sad and will have a large impact. The Poles are a strong people, with a huge ability to cope with calamities. We are confident that they will be capable to handle this, but the pain will be huge and the sacrifices big. It cannot be that this will not have an impact on the short-term management of the country, notwithstanding the fact that Tusk is still there as prime minister. The psychological impact on the people will also be important.

We wish the Poles all the best in these difficult times. Lech Kaczynski, the former mayor of Warsaw, was 60 years old. His brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski will continue to lead the Law and Justice Party, Poland's largest opposition political party that was founded by Lech Kaczynski some 10 years ago.

Click here for the Economist article about the Polish Tragedy in Smolensk, 70 years after Katyn.


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