English Section

Prigozhin's plane crash echoes 2010 Polish air disaster in Russia: opinion

26.08.2023 01:00
Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s presumed death in a plane crash this week bears striking similarities to other aviation disasters in which some suspect Moscow had a hand, including the fatal 2010 crash of a Polish presidential jet, according to a German journalist.
The wreckage of the Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154 plane that crashed near Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10, 2010.
The wreckage of the Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154 plane that crashed near Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10, 2010.Photo: PAP/ITAR-TASS/Russian Investigative Committee

Prigozhin's apparent death in the crash near the city of Tver, north of Moscow, on Wednesday also carries echoes of a 1943 air disaster that killed Polish World War II military leader and politician Władysław Sikorski near Gibraltar, Berthold Seewald wrote in an article in Die Welt newspaper, as cited by a Polish website.

All three crashes led to the death of prominent figures amid suspicion of foul play by dictators, Seewald pointed out, according to the forsal.pl website.

On April 10, 2010, a Polish plane carrying President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and 94 others, including top political and military figures, crashed near Smolensk, western Russia, killing all those on board.

Lech Kaczyński Lech Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

The Polish officials had been on their way to commemorate some 22,000 Polish prisoners of war and intellectuals who were killed in the spring of 1940 on orders from top Soviet authorities in what is known as the Katyn Massacre.

The disaster more than 13 years ago scarred the national psyche and is still a source of controversy and recriminations.

Some believe Vladimir Putin may have had a hand in the crash in his role as Russia’s prime minister at the time, Seewald noted in his piece, as quoted by forsal.pl.

In April this year, Lech Kaczyński’s surviving twin brother, Jarosław, who leads Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, suggested Russian complicity in the crash, labeling it an assassination, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Jarosław Kaczyński Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

In November last year, a Warsaw district court issued an arrest warrant for three Russian air traffic controllers on charges of “intentionally causing a plane crash.”

Meanwhile, the 1943 air disaster that killed Polish military leader Sikorski is also shrouded in mystery and intrigue, according to Seewald, with some insisting that the crash was masterminded by the Soviet security service.

Sikorski, who headed the London-based Polish government-in-exile during World War II, died in the crash near Gibraltar on July 4, 1943.

He was flying back to England after visiting Gibraltar when his Liberator plane plunged into the sea shortly after take-off, killing 16 passengers and crew on board. Only the pilot survived.

Gen. Władysław Sikorski wydał rozkaz o przekształceniu Związku Walki Zbrojnej w Armię Krajową Gen. Władysław Sikorski. Photo: NAC

Some believe Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered Sikorski's death because the Polish leader was pressing for a probe into the Katyn Massacre and did not want the communists to take power in Poland after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Seewald wrote in Die Welt.


Source: IAR, forsal.pldw.comwelt.derferl.org