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Between 2016 and 2021, a subcommittee investigating the Smoleńsk air disaster led by Antoni Macierewicz (Poland’s former Minister of National Defense) spent nearly PLN 8 million on a report prepared by the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University.
The subcommittee cited NIAR's findings in its final report to support the claim that on April 10, 2010, the Russian city of Smoleńsk was the site of an assassination attempt on a Polish Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft, resulting in the deaths of President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and 94 other people, including MPs, senior military officers, and high-level government officials.
However, recent revelations by the TVN24 journalist Piotr Świerczek show that NIAR’s report did not confirm Mr. Macierewicz’s thesis in the slightest. In his video report aired on Monday night, Mr. Świerczek - who has been investigating the Smoleńsk air disaster for years, revealed how Antoni Macierewicz's subcommittee deliberately falsified experiments and test results and hid unfavorable information in an effort to prove the assassination thesis.
On April 10, 2022, the 12th anniversary of the Smoleńsk air disaster, Antoni Macierewicz announced the findings of his subcommittee. Conclusion: there was an assassination attempt. Allegedly, two bombs exploded on board the presidential aircraft - one on the wing and the other in the passenger cabin. According to Macierewicz’s subcommittee, the explosives were most likely planted while the aircraft was being overhauled in the Russian Samara.
For the ruling camp, it was a day of great victory. Since then, Law and Justice party politicians led by Jarosław Kaczyński have been saying that the assassination theory has been officially confirmed, and that Smoleńsk "was the site of a terrible crime" committed by Vladimir Putin's Russia.
NIAR's research played a key role in Macierewicz's presentation accompanying the release of the subcommittee's report. Both in the report and in a supplementary video, NIAR is cited repeatedly as the scientific authority confirming the assassination thesis.
However, NIAR's findings were quite different from those presented by Mr. Macierewicz. TVN 24 showed that the subcommittee left out parts of the research that were inconvenient, and falsified others. The most prominent example being the fact that the plane, descending at excessive speed in very dense fog, crashed after hitting a birch tree with its left wing.
Macierewicz and his people claim that the collision with the tree and the loss of several parts of the left wing did not happen at all, and that the plane flew over the tree and crashed as a result of an explosion.
Piotr Świerczek’s 77-minute-long video report reveals a whole list of lies. Claims about explosion marks on the wing, explosives found in the passenger compartment and the alleged sound of an explosion recorded on the black box were all based on false evidence.
The video features experts who dropped out of the subcommittee’s investigation because they refused to sign off on false information. - Inconvenient evidence is [in the subcommittee's report] either ignored or interpreted inconsistently. We couldn't put our names next to something like this- one of the experts, Marek Dąbrowski, says in the video. - I wanted to make it clear that I did not identify any sound of an explosion. There was a selective use of the preliminary results of my research and the formulation of unauthorized conclusions- emphasizes Mirosław Tarasiński, who, according to the subcommittee's report, confirmed that he could identify an explosion recorded on the black box.
Piotr Świerczek's findings show that the Macierewicz-led team even manipulated the results of its own experiments to prove that a bomb was planted in the aircraft’s wing. The photo used in the report was cropped in such a way as to make it impossible to see that the damage to the wing torn off by the explosion is different from that on the wing that tore off the presidential plane.
It turns out that the subcommittee ignored at least four expert reports (commissioned and paid for) by foreign entities because they showed that the cause of the air disaster was not an assassination plot, but a simple crash. Moreover, the subcommittee simply removed its members, who at various stages would not agree with the false information. Before the video report was aired, TVN 24 sent the subcommittee multiple questions. The response reads, among other things: "in connection with the systematic reporting of false information by some media outlets regarding the Smoleńsk crime (...) the Subcommittee for the Re-examination of the Air Disaster kindly informs you that ignoring the true causes of the Smoleńsk tragedy, contained in the official position of the Polish State, means de facto support of disinformation perpetrated by the Russian side".
In 2011, Jerzy Miller's government investigative committee, composed of prominent civilian and military specialists, published its report on the causes of the presidential plane crash. It ruled out an assassination attempt (there are no traces of it in the examined wreckage of the aircraft or on the black boxes) and concluded that what led to the crash was organizational negligence and inadequate training. The crew violated basic safety procedures, descending the plane in terrible weather conditions.
It did not choose an alternate airport despite receiving a clear message from air traffic controllers that landing the plane in such poor weather conditions would be very risky. The controllers made some mistakes on their part, and the rather dated equipment at the former military airport failed to communicate the exact location of the descending aircraft.
After coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice party mobilized the entire state apparatus - including setting up a special team in the prosecutor's office - to prove the bombing thesis. It even led to the forced exhumation of all uncremated victims of the crash. Examination of the corpses showed that the injuries were typical for an air traffic crash.
This did not prevent Jarosław Kaczyński from stating that the Smoleńsk disaster was an "unheard-of crime". Despite accusing Russia of a political assassination, the right-wing government did nothing to bring it to justice, although it announced it would take the case to the International Court of Justice.
"If the prime minister and minister of defense fail to respond to the evidence of Macierewicz's fraud and manipulation revealed by TVN 24, they will share the responsibility for these crimes. All the materials concealed by the subcommittee (including analyses from US experts) should be made public in their entirety"- Tomasz Siemoniak, former head of Poland’s Ministry of National Defense, now a Civic Coalition MP, wrote on Twitter.
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