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Polish President’s Death In Plane Crash

  • April 10th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

poland-lech-kaczynski.jpgThe death on Saturday (10.4.10) of Poland’s President, Lech Kaczyński, in a plane crash,  rings down the curtain on the episode of the “Polish twins” who ushered in their country’s early experience as a member of the EU.

ACCIDENT RECALLS KATYN MASSACRE

Lech Aleksander Kaczyński, 60, and his wife Maria, died when an aircraft carrying senior government officials and family members crashed near Smolensk in Western Russia.

katyn-wikipedia.jpgThey had been going to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, near that city — the murder of over 20000 Polish officers and leading civilians by Soviet agents during the Second World War.

The Tupolev jet reportedly went down while attempting to land in thick fog; (the number given out as lost, in a range between 87 and 132, settling on 97, none surviving).

TWIN CAREERS

Kaczyński as a young lawyer was part of the Solidarity free trade union movement in the 1980s, who went on to become a conservative politician after the end of the communist system; eventually co-founding the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2002, two years before Poland’s entry into the European Union.

He was elected President in 2005, and the next year the party’s legislative group, though a minority in its own right, headed a government with his identical twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński as Prime Minister.

FARMYARD IMAGE

The brothers’ sixteen-months’ rule, until the 2007 election of a new government under the centrist group, Civic Platform, was characterised by their homespun populism on social issues, nationalist rhetoric, and dogged unwillingness to sign on to various common European policies.

The farmyard image would be picked up at international gatherings; Polish journalists at the EU would find themselves provoking amusement, when seeking reaction to discordant moves by the government back home.

Lech Kaczynski as Mayor of Warsaw had banned a gay rights parade, bringing on a case in the European Court of Human Rights which declared the move outside of European law.

As President he resisted Poland’s accession to the 2009 expansion and restructuring of  the EU, the Lisbon Treaty, arguing the change process compromised the status of sovereign member states.

Identified with so-called “New Europe” friends of America in the lead-up to the Iraq war, he supported basing US anti-missile defences in Poland.

The EU, through the Spanish Presidency of the European Council, has sent a message of condolence and support over the death of  Kaczynski and his travelling party, to the Polish government.

Reference

AFP, Paris, “EU sends condolences to Poland over crash”, 10.4.10.

VOA, Washington; “Polish President Killed in Plane Crash”, 10.4.10. http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Polish-President-Killed-in-Plane-Crash-90467304.html, (10.4.10).

Wikipedia encyclopaedia; Wikipedia Foundation, SF; “Lech Aleksander Kaczyński”, “Jarosław Kaczyński”; (10.4.10). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Poland, (10.4.10).

Luke Harding, Moscow; Guardian.co.uk, UK; “Polish President Lech Kaczyński killed in plane crash”, 10.4.10. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/10/poland-president-lech-kaczynski-killed, (10.4.10).

Pictures

Lech Kaczyński, Katyn massacre (Wikipedia).

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