Ten artykuł czytasz w ramach bezpłatnego limitu

Follow the big issues that shape Polish politics and society by signing up to our weekly newsletter "News from Poland: Democracy at Stake". It allows you to stay up to speed on developments concerning the ongoing assault on democratic institutions, rule of law, and human rights in Poland.

On Monday, the long-anticipated conference where Poland’s former Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz was supposed to present the public with undeniable evidence showing that the Smoleńsk air disaster was in fact the result of Moscow’s assassination plan, has finally taken place. Yet, it turned out to be a bunch of the same old baseless and absurd allegations, such as the claim that the Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-154 plane carrying President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other people (including high-level government officials), was supposed to be still flying for several seconds after an alleged vacuum bomb was detonated in the plane’s left wing. In any case, no words of panic were recorded on the black boxes.

Macierewicz also argued that the plane’s wing has never hit a birch and that it was not the tree that had caused part of the plane to break off, even though some of its elements were found stuck in the birch tree after the crash.

Before Macierewicz’s two-hour-long conference filled with amateurish animations, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and Deputy Prime Minister for Security Affairs Jarosław Kaczyński announced on Sunday evening that the Smoleńsk subcommittee's report would reveal irrefutable evidence of an onboard explosion.

Not even the members of Kaczyński’s own party believe in his conspiracy theories

When we asked the Presidential Palace on Tuesday when Andrzej Duda would approach NATO for information about the Smoleńsk air disaster, we only heard a diplomatic response that the President "will inform the public about specifics in the future".

Back in 2017, when Donald Trump, an allegedly close ally of the PiS party, was still president of the United States, Macierewicz himself officially asked the North Atlantic Alliance for help and claimed to have been promised it. To this day, he has not revealed what response he received.

- This entire charade was all about showing that PiS is never wrong. Because if the Law and Justice party was right in its assessment of the EU and German policy towards Putin's Russia, it means that it was right about everything else- says one of our sources familiar with the inner workings of the ruling party.

It was yet another anniversary of the Smoleńsk catastrophe, so PiS had to tell its voters something. Even if there are no new findings or facts, conspiracy theories about the Smoleńsk air disaster fit perfectly into the current anti-Russian sentiment. - Of course, some of them still stick to the thesis about the onboard explosion but the majority of the Law and Justice party doesn’t buy that- our source adds.

Off-record, members of the Law and Justice party explicitly say that "it would be a crime not to make use of the anti-Russian moods caused by the war in Ukraine".

 - We need to close the Smoleńsk topic. And now is the perfect time to do it- says a high-ranking member of the ruling party.

- Same old. I don’t know what is the purpose of all this, even if I have doubts about the Miller report [a 2011 report prepared by a government committee consisting of aviation experts], but I do not see any serious evidence of a planned assassination- another Law and Justice MP points out.

Nobody had great expectations about Macierewicz’s conference. When asked about it, ruling camp politicians mostly answer that they did not have the time to follow the conference and study the report. However, behind the scenes, there is a dominating feeling of disappointment because some people were still hoping that Macierewicz would reveal at least one new thing.

It is a cynical strategy meant to make the Law and Justice party’s most devoted voter base happy by confirming their prejudices. And nobody will take the effort to go into details. In turn, the prosecution washed its hands clean and pretends that Macierewicz’s conference had never taken place. It will prolong the investigation indefinitely. The Minister of Justice/Attorney General Zbigniew Ziobro himself has never been an avid supporter of the assassination theory.

But if Putin's Russia assassinated the Polish president, what does the Polish government intend to do about it? It’s a problematic question for the government. - Let each voter draw political consequences at the ballot box- comments Marek Martynowski, the head of the Law and Justice senators' club. –It’s obvious that we will not go to war with Russia- he adds.

What happened in Smoleńsk on April 10, 2010?

In July 2011, the government committee chaired by the then Minister of the Interior Jerzy Miller published a report on the causes of the plane crash. So far, none of the experts investigating air disasters had questioned this document (Macierewicz’s subcommittee had almost no aviation specialists).

According to this report, the tragedy happened because the airplane was flying too fast and too low in difficult conditions of dense fog and no visibility of the ground. The plane carrying the Polish president was flying so low that it cut a birch tree at the height of fewer than 7 m with its wing, lost steering control, turned, and fell to the ground. What’s more, the catastrophe was preceded by several acts of negligence and multiple mistakes.

Also back then, during the time of the politically independent Attorney General Andrzej Seremet (appointed by Lech Kaczyński), investigators ruled out a planned assassination attempt - the evidence was the examination of the plain’s remains and the records from all of its black boxes which did not register any explosion.

***

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs. 

The access to information should be equal for all.

Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation
DONATE
Czytaj ten tekst i setki innych dzięki prenumeracie

Wybierz prenumeratę, by czytać to, co Cię ciekawi

Wyborcza.pl to zawsze sprawdzone informacje, szczere wywiady, zaskakujące reportaże i porady ekspertów w sprawach, którymi żyjemy na co dzień. Do tego magazyny o książkach, historii i teksty z mediów europejskich. Zrezygnować możesz w każdej chwili.