At 10:41 a.m. on 10 April 2010, Polish Air Force Flight 101 crashed several hundred meters short of the Smolensk runway in dense fog killing President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, the former President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish Government officials, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. The group was arriving from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre, which took place not far from Smolensk. Within hours the Russian government issued a statement citing the incident on pilot error. Russia’s final report on the incident blamed the late President Kaczyński and his “inebriated” air force commander-in-chief for using “psychological pressure” to force the Polish pilots to land in a low-visibility environment. Drawing on Western technical expertise, Polish investigators found strong evidence the crash was indeed no accident, but was caused by two bombs planted onboard. Russia’s actions immediately after the crash were to sweep the crash site of evidence, confiscate personal effects, documents, wallets and briefcases and cell phones of the 96 victims and confiscate the plane’s black dees to prevent examination by others – actions more akin to cleaning up a crime scene than assisting any investigation.
The Katyn Massacres
By no small coincidence the day of the crash was the seventieth anniversary of the first Katyn Massacre, a series of mass executions of Polish nationals carried out by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police. The 1940 massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940, approved by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000. The victims were executed in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons, and elsewhere. Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the rest were arrested Polish intelligentsia that the Soviets deemed to be “intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests”.
The government of Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in 1943. When the London-based Polish government-in-exile asked for an investigation by the International Red Cross, Stalin immediately severed diplomatic relations with it. The USSR claimed that the victims had been murdered by the Nazis in 1941, and continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the perpetration of the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.
An investigation conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Soviet Union (1990–1991) and the Russian Federation (1991–2004) confirmed Soviet responsibility for the massacres, but refused to classify this action as a war crime or an act of genocide. The investigation was closed on the grounds that the perpetrators of the atrocity were already dead, and since the Russian government would not classify the dead as victims of Stalinist repression, formal posthumous rehabilitation was deemed inapplicable.
In November 2010, the Russian State Duma approved a declaration blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for having personally ordered the massacre. So, Russia claimed responsibility for the Katyn Massacre 70 years after it occurred due to the overwhelming evidence. Were the also responsible for another mass killing of 96 passengers on the Polish Air Force Tu-154?
1952 interview on the massacres with Arthur Bliss Lane, US Ambassador to Poland, below…
Cyber attacks on the Polish Foreign Ministry
To begin with, it has been confirmed that two cyber attacks – one on April 6, 2010, and another on April 10, i.e. the very day of the crash – temporarily crippled the Polish Foreign Ministry. Its employees thus had no access to servers with secret information, not to mention email or even telephones. On the day of the tragedy, the cyber attack even prevented the Foreign Ministry from receiving a list of passengers via email. This was discussed, in a June 2012 interview, by retired CIA new technologies and aviation expert, S. Eugene Poteat, who argued that it was quite likely that the culprits were hackers working for the post-Soviet regime in Moscow. After all, Russian cyber attacks had also paralyzed Estonia and Georgia (before the August 2008 invasion). Poteat, a professor at the DC-based Institute of World Politics, conducted the initial investigation of the crash that questions Russia’s claim the crash was a case of mere pilot error, leading others around the world to take a second look.
The Smolensk airport was said to be fogged in, but the airport had not been declared as closed. As the TU-154 approached the airport, the tower suggested the pilot divert to Moscow. This is standard practice by both military and civilian flights around the world. The pilot responded that he would make one attempt to land, but if that failed, he would fly on to another, clear airport. At the outer marker, two kilometers from the runway, the airplane was on track. At the inner marker, one kilometer from the runway, the plane was suddenly 40 to 60 meters to the left of the centerline and 2.5 meters above the ground, below the glide path, and traveling 280 K/hr, with throttles applied (for a go-around) at the time of the crash. The aircraft’s reported speed of 280 K/hr has to be an error. This is twice the speed of a normal landing approach. At this point the pilot applied full power to abort the landing attempt, but it was too late. The plane struck trees, flipped over, and crashed well short of the runway.
Initial reports said that the plane attempted to land several times due to dense fog, but later it was revealed by a senior Russian aviation official that it only attempted to land once, and that it crashed on that attempt. There is nothing to confirm there was fog in the area as was suggested. Regular citations made by meteorologists from 4am indicate the presence of smoke surrounding the airport, but Russia would provide nothing to confirm or deny these reports. The amateur video footage (below) and weather reports contradict this media claim of fog obscuring the pilot’s view. Fog usually requires 100% humidity (unless created artificially), and as can be seen from the weather report below, it was only at 60%. In fact, there was no fog for the entire week in that area. This information is confirmed in weather reports.
Regular investigative procedures clearly weren’t being followed, and it is clear that lies have been planted at every step along the way to obfuscate the truth. Certain news outlets suggested that the pilot was not able to speak Russian and there was confusion during the landing. Colleagues of the pilot say he was fluent in Russian, contrary to media reports.
According to Russia’s IAC Final Report, the airport lighting system was working properly at the time of the accident, conflicting with another statement within the report that indicates that four out of eight rows of lights were turned off. This information was only revealed after a journalists made photos public showing Russian soldiers replacing bulbs and fixing power supply cables only a few hours after the crash.
Contradictory to the IAC Final Report, the Russian Chief Air Traffic Controller could not had undergone medical examinations as reported by Russia because the medical point was closed at the time according to testimony of the Landing Zone Coordinator. This was a requirement for the CATC to perform his duties that day. Ironically, this was the CATC’s 2nd time in that role at the Smolensk airport, and 9th in the previous year, according to his own admission. Furthermore, another unauthorized grounds crewman, Colonel Krasnokutsky, was the most active in corresponding directly to the Polish pilot and not only gave him detailed reports about the aircraft position and the situation at the airport but also made the critical final decision to bring the airplane down to 100 meters. Russia refused to provide any information in regards to another person that Colonel Krasnokutsky was having a mobile phone conversation with also during the landing attempt.
Contrary to some reports of mechanical failure, the plane was in perfect condition, recently inspected and refurbished with new navigational and electronic equipment. The plane was equipped with TAWS (Terrain Awareness System) in addition to standard radar, so there is hardly likely it would clip a tree on the way down as the navigational alarm would have sounded. Unless the upgraded electronic equipment had been modified or sabotaged, or even affected by a Russian electro-magnetic pulse weapon, as some suggest. In that case, manual override may have been necessary, or even impossible if the wiring had been severely affected.
Shortly after the crash, amateur footage was released ostensibly showing a Russian clean-up crew at the crash site killing off the few survivors of the Polish presidential plane crash. It seems unlikely that a crew would be waiting there on-site in that location as it’s an otherwise empty forest. The amateur filmmaker would soon die mysteriously along with several others related to the crash.
Here is the translated English transcript of the audio in the video and its approximate timing:
- 0:13 Calm down!
- 0:18 Look him in the eyes.
- 0:22 Calm down!
- 0:29 Oh my God!
- 0:30 All of them!
- 0:31 Kill them!
- 0:38 (Airport siren sounds)
- 0:45 Surround him! Go around! He’s running away!
- 0:47 Give me a gun.
- 0:49 Come here, bastard!
- 0:50 Kill him!
- 0:51 Do not kill us.
- 0:51 Do not kill us.
- 0:55 My God, my God, what is that?
- 0:55 Shoot.
- 0:56 (Gun reloading noise)
- 0:57 (Shot #1)
- 1:01 You’ll never get away with it!
- 1:07 (Shot #2)
- 1:09 (Laughter)
- 1:13 Change of plans – come back!
- 1:14 Everyone come back – faster!
- 1:14 (Shot #3)
- 1:17 (Shot #4)
- 1:20 Let’s get out of here.
Was one of the crash survivors MP Leszek Deptuła who died in Smolensk? Joanna Krasowska-Deptuła, his widow, testified that her husband called her at the time of the crash. She did not answer the phone and a message was left on her voice mail. This information was provided several hours after the Smolensk crash by the weekly “Wprost.”
“Between 9 am and 9.30 am, a voice mail came on my phone, which registered the voice recording of my husband, who shouted: “Asia, Asia!” In the background, you could hear crackling, and actually the voice of my husband was in the background. We could hear the voices of people too, like the voices of the crowd. I did not recognize the words, it was the cry of the people. The recording lasted 2-3 seconds. The cracklings were short, sharp sounds. As if breaking the waffle or plastic, plus a sound like wind noise in the telephone handset,” testified Krasowska-Deptuła. She listened to this message only after she heard about the crash on television.
Then the recording was erased. A day later, the woman informed the Internal Security Agency about all of it and asked them to find the recording and examine it. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Rzepa, a spokesman of the Chief Military Prosecutors’ Office, said that the recording came from the Polish territory. Subsequently the woman changed her testimony.
The issues related to mobile phones was first raised by the parliamentary committee chaired by Antoni Macierewicz. [Read more here] Thus far, no answers have been provided beyond the information that at least 19 cell phones were active at the time of the crash, as disclosed by the Military Prosecutors’ Office.
On May 25th, 2010 the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw, turned to the Russian Federation with a request for so called legal aid in identifying the author of the crash scene film (above) and the circumstances of its creation:
“[…] to undertake and initiate necessary steps to determine the circumstance of the creation of the film, most probably uploaded for the first time on “YouTube” internet website on 12/04/2010 by a person under the nickname of Rastych described in Russian as “gorit samoliet mp4” […] According to the findings of the Polish prosecutor’s office, the “Twitter” site has had a user by the name of Rastych, signed as Yura Budnyk. According to reports in the Polish media, the film was recorded by 27 year old Vladimir Ivanov, a mechanic working in a garage located about 200 meters from the airport in Smolensk Siewiernyj.”
Many assumptions and hypothesis have arisen as to the real identity of the film author. In addition to the name of Kola, other hypothetical names and aliases have been mentioned such as: Rastych, Jura Budnyk, Vladimir Ivanov, Vladimir Safonienko, Andrei Mendierej. (Source1, Source2)
It was among others reported and it circulated that the author of the film actually Andrej Mendierej, was stabbed in Kiev on 15 April 2010. Then transported to hospital in sever condition, only to be subsequently stabbed again and disconnected from the hospital equipment, ultimately leading to his death/murder. (Source)
Discussions arouse further for a brief moment, by what some commentators identified on the film as a ‘moving rope’ along the screen at one point from left to right (00:44 – 00:47). In October 2011, an anonymous blogger published on the internet a 3D animation entitled “[lightbox full=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0HiJxEUmlA”]A short film about...[/lightbox]” identifying the object as a ‘lifting sling’ with a purpose of transporting heavy loads from the air, raising the interest of the media and stirring further discussions on the internet. Could there be anything to these hanging ropes?
This air crash had some telltale signs of being a pre-planned accident. On-site footage has sparked Polish demand for an international investigation better than the whitewashing collusion of Putin’s and Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Polish underlings. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said “there is something incredibly evil” in the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage. Compelling new evidence suggesting that the plane crash killing President Lech Kaczynski, nearly a hundred top military brass and civilians leaders was engineered is generating growing criticism of the Prime Minister, forcing him to deal with this reality. And this is not the first time a Polish head of state has died mysteriously in an air crash.
Traces of TNT explosives on the Smolensk wreckage – a post-KGB signature?
Concurrently, in September-October of last year, traces of TNT and nitroglycerine were found on the wreckage of the Polish Tupolev by forensic experts combing the crash site on behalf of the Polish Military Prosecutor’s Office. The head of the Warsaw District of the MPO, Col. Ireneusz Szeląg, attempted to suppress this information, which was eventually revealed by investigative journalist Cezary Gmyz in his now famous article of October 30, 2012, in the respected newspaper of record, Rzeczpospolita [The Republic]. The fallout resulted in the firing of not only Gmyz, but also two other journalists and even the editor-in-chief of the daily within a week after the publication of the piece.
In a most equivocal manner, the Warsaw District MPO denied that traces of TNT and nitroglycerine had been found on the wreck, while at the same time admitting the presence of “ionized particles” which could, but need not be, explosives. Furthermore, the prosecutors continued, laboratory testing would be required to definitely prove the presence of explosive materials. The “catch” is, however, that such laboratory tests could easily consume six months or so. Antoni Macierewicz, the head of an independent parliamentary commission to investigate Smolensk, does not hide his frustration with what he views as deception: “During the Wednesday hearings of the Parliamentary Justice Committee [in December 2012] the military prosecutors confirmed several times that the instruments used to test the wreckage of the Tupolev detected the presence of TNT. They thereby admitted that they lied! After all, in October they announced that they detected no such thing.”
It should be noted that in early April Poland’s Prosecutor General, Andrzej Seremet, extended the six-month period for laboratory testing to rule out the presence of TNT until summer (most likely July). Simultaneously, Seremet revealed his agenda, i.e. the objective of the tests is to provide a basis to refute the “assassination theory,” as opposed to objectively seeking the truth.
Furthermore, it has been reported that a sample from the seat belt of Smolensk victim Ewa Bąkowska—which had been tested at a university in the United States upon the request of her cousin—indeed tested positive for TNT.
In spite of having lost his job over the TNT issue, Cezary Gmyz stuck to his guns. He pointed out that the scanners used to test for explosives in Smolensk represent a highly reliable cutting-edge technology used, for example, by Israeli security forces at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. When asked in a public meeting whether the presence of TNT might have been purely coincidental, Gmyz replied: “There was so much of it, that the instruments went crazy. One device simply stopped working because the scale had been exceeded.” The investigative journalist also pointed out that while TNT may be a quite simple substance, it would certainly reflect the unsophisticated style of the post-KGB, adding that TNT had been used by the FSB to blow up residential buildings filled with Russian citizens in Ryazan as a pretext to launch a second war in Chechnya. “Thus, it [the TNT] may simply be their signature.”
Parenthetically, it should be noted following the discovery of TNT during the fall, the Russians refused to allow Polish diplomats to even view the still unreconstructed Smolensk wreckage in early March of this year.
While the revelation of the presence of explosives may be highly suspicious—especially in light of the two “jolts” (i.e. likely blasts) detected by the experts working for the Macierewicz Committee—it is important to keep in mind the role of the “Smolensk card” in Moscow’s relations with Warsaw and in Russia’s internal politics as well. As one theory has it: For Vladimir Putin, the threat to “leak” information demonstrating the incompetence and pusillanimity of the current government in Warsaw serves to blackmail Donald Tusk, whom the Russian president appears to view as a weak and submissive politician. Conversely, it has been suggested that anti-Putin forces in Russia itself, including the post-Soviet GRU (military counterintelligence), which Putin has neglected, are striving to utilize Smolensk to oust the KGB colonel.
Post-communist media: agents of deception
Since the very day of the crash, the Russians have disseminated the claim Polish President Lech Kaczyński and an allegedly intoxicated Air Force General, Andrzej Błasik, pressured the two Polish pilots to land. Liberal and post-communist circles in Poland immediately seized upon this FSB-engineered myth. For instance, as we have learned, a reporter for the TVN24 television station in Poland, Joanna Komolka (in a program aired on July 14, 2010), misrepresented the words uttered by the pilots in the black box transcript. According to Komolka, the words were: “If we don’t land, they’ll kill us.” In reality, the conversation between the two aviators was: “What if we don’t land? Then we’ll go around.” The reporter continued to work for TVN24 for two more years, until October 2012. Her termination does not appear to be related to her blatantly deceptive manipulation of the exchange between the fallen pilots. She currently works as the PR representative for Poland’s finest children’s hospital.
The whole investigation has been characterized by misinformation so prolific as to indicate intentional fabrication, and conscious disinformation, delivered through the main media by both Colonel Putin and the Polish Prime Minister Tusk.
The Russians did not supply any information regarding the rescue operations or actions taken to Final Report on the Smolensk crash. They did not provide Polish government or include in the final report any information regarding fire fighting, rescue efforts, photographic documentation, or otherwise.
Victims were not provided with first aid on a timely basis. Initial reports from the crash scene indicate that 6 people on the crash scene showed signs of life, however no first aid was forthcoming in the first hour after the crash. As a result, no one survived the crash. Certainly, the fired shots, as heard in the after-crash video footage above, might have put a damper on those hopes much earlier anyway.
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