Russia announced that it will allow Polish investigators to examine the wreckage of a Polish plane that crashed near Smolensk in 2010, an incident that killed Poland’s then-President Lech Kaczynski and the members of the official delegation heading to the events marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.
According to the information published on the website of the Russian Federation Investigative Committee, access to the aircraft wreckage will be granted at the end of May.
"At the end of March of this year, the Russian Federation investigation has approved a request from the competent authorities of the Republic of Poland to examine the wreckage of the Polish presidential Tu-154M aircraft. According to the reached agreement, at the end of May, employees of the Russian Investigative Committee will give Polish representatives access to the units, sub-sites and construction elements of the Tu-154M, which is stored at the Smolensk airport (Severny) in Smolensk, " reads the statement.
At the same time, the Tu-154M wreckage continues to carry the status of material evidence as the investigation has not been completed yet.
The Tu-154 crashed while coming in to land at the North Smolensk airport, leading to the deaths of 96 people: Polish President Lech Kaczyński, the crew, and members of the official delegation traveling to an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.
In January 2011, the Polish Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), published a report on the crash investigation, according to which the pilots were responsible for the catastrophe, since they rejected the advice to go to an alternate airport, despite the unfavorable weather conditions. The inadequate qualification of the crew is stated to be the indirect cause of the crash.
A commission led by former Polish defense minister Antoni Macierewicz refuted the theory that the pilots were to blame. According to a report presented in the Polish Sejm, there was an explosion in the plane’s left wing at an altitude of roughly 900 meters. Just before the landing strip, there were several emergencies, and then, while the plane was still in the air, an explosion in the aircraft’s fuselage. Furthermore, the commission determined that the operators in Smolensk gave the Polish Tu-154 crew incorrect information for landing.
The commission also ruled out the possibility that Polish Air Force General Andrzej Błasik was in the cockpit during the landing approach.
Macierewicz said that the technical report, which, according to him, does not yet reflect the official stance of the Polish government, has been given to the Prosecutor General’s Office, which is conducting its own investigation into the aviation catastrophe.
Russia has been unwilling to send the aircraft fragments and other physical evidence to Poland, claiming that the Russian investigation is not yet complete.