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Georgian ex-president says Poland’s 2010 Smolensk air crash was an act of revenge by Russia

12.04.2023 16:30
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has claimed that the 2010 Smolensk air crash, which killed Poland’s then-President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others, was an act of revenge by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lech Kaczyński (left) and Mikheil Saakashvili (right) in Tbilisi, Georgia, on August 12, 2008.
Lech Kaczyński (left) and Mikheil Saakashvili (right) in Tbilisi, Georgia, on August 12, 2008. PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Saakashvili, who is currently serving a jail sentence in Tbilisi, on what he regards as trumped-up charges, made the statement in a Facebook post, Poland’s tvp.info website reported on Wednesday. 

The former Georgian head of state published the post earlier this week to mark 13 years since the Smolensk air disaster.       

He said that Russia killed Lech Kaczyński in revenge for his diplomatic efforts to stop the Kremlin’s aggression against Georgia in 2008, tvp.info reported. 

Lech Kaczyński 'sacrificed his life for Georgia ... Putin killed him': Saakashvili

Saakashvili wrote: “[Lech Kaczyński] sacrificed his life for Georgia ... He used to tell me: the difference between you and me is that because Poland is in the European Union I will stay alive after my presidency and you might be killed. Well, Putin killed him and is now killing me.” 

Saakashvili was referring to a verdict by a Georgian court to keep him in prison, despite grave concerns over his health, according to tvp.info. 

Last month, the Polish government said it was ready to send medics to Georgia to provide medical assistance to Saakashvili, subject to approval from Tbilisi, news outlets reported at the time.  

Saakashvili says the charge of “abuse of power” against him is baseless and politically motivated. 

‘I had many friends on that plane’

Referring to the 2010 Smolensk disaster, the former Georgian head of state said: “I had many friends on that plane. In fact, before going Lech called me and offered to join as among the killed Polish officers there were many Georgians. I replied that in that case that plane would never reach its destination, as it would not be allowed to land. Well, even without me the tragedy has happened.” 

Saakashvili also described the circumstances of his journey for Lech Kaczyński’s funeral in the southern Polish city of Kraków in 2010. 

He wrote: “I was on the way to America when I learned that shocking news. I had to rush back in the situation when airports were closing one after another. We took a small private plane by a longer southern road to Europe, where a Georgian presidential plane was waiting. In Europe we lied to air traffic controllers in Italy, Turkey and didn’t even ask Ukrainians for permission and landed in Kraków.”

Saakashvili added: “It was God's predicament that I walked to the Wawel palace exactly the minute the ceremony was marching into the final resting place. I stopped not knowing how to act as it was already a private family ceremony. Jarosław [Kaczyński] saw me. Waived his hand and invited me to join. Till I breathe I will remember that moment.”

'A great Polish hero ... a national hero of Georgia

Saakashvili continued in his Facebook post: “Lech Kaczyński was my political teacher and soulmate, which is more than just a friend. He sacrificed his life for Georgia as I know for sure that Smolensk was payback for Tbilisi of 2008.” 

He added: “Lech Kaczyński – a great Polish hero is also a national hero of Georgia.”

'Today it is Georgia, tomorrow it will be Ukraine...'

On August 12, 2008, during Russia’s invasion of Georgia, Poland’s then-President Lech Kaczyński travelled to Tbilisi in a show of solidarity, together with the leaders of Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, tvp.info reported.

Speaking at a rally in the Georgian capital, the Polish head of state warned his audience about Russia’s aggressive designs on its neighbours. 

He said, as cited by tvp.info: “We know perfectly well that today it is Georgia, tomorrow it will be Ukraine, and the day after tomorrow, the Baltic states. And then, perhaps it will also be the turn of my country, Poland.”

Saakashvili, Georgia’s president from 2004 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2013, has been serving a six-year prison sentence since the autumn of 2021, news outlets reported. 

A court has ruled to keep him in prison even though, according to many Georgian and Western human rights activists, Saakashvili is suffering from “serious and life-threatening health issues,” tvp.info reported.

In late February, Saakashvili thanked Poland for its support after EU member states issued a formal diplomatic warning to Tbilisi over his deteriorating health.

Wednesday is day 413 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: tvp.info, dziennik.pl