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In Memory of Those who Died in the Plane Disaster near Smolensk

Source:, 10/04/10
The head of the International Memorial Society, Arseny Roginsky, said that on board the Tu-154 that crashed outside Smolensk, in addition to the Polish President and officials, there could have been leaders of Polish NGOs whose work linked them with the Katyn tragedy. According to initial figures, a total of 96 people were killed in the plane crash. The Memorial Society expresses its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who died. "From this day the word ‘Katyn’ will doubly mean tragedy for the Polish people," said Adam Michnik bitterly.
“Katyn has a tragic fate for the Poles," Arseny Roginsky told Interfax.
The editors of contacted Alexander Guryanov, who, as a member of a group from the Memorial Society, was at the memorial complex at Katyn awaiting the presidential delegation from Poland. In Katyn are the relatives of those Polish officers killed in 1940 and representatives of Polish and Russian NGOs. Prayers were said in memory of those killed in today's crash, people were crying, unable to believe what happened.
Yan Rachinsky of Memorial, who was at Katyn on 10 April, told Radio Liberty: “The day began early. People began to assemble in anticipation of the ceremony. The ceremony was delayed. At first, the nature of the disaster was not clear, and then instead of the ceremony people began to say prayers. A Catholic mass was said, but in these circumstances, of course, the ceremony was changed. A mass was said, and the Polish officers were remembered, as well as those killed today in the tragic accident. Later it was learnt that, apparently, almost everyone on the plane had been killed. This was reported by the Polish Ambassador to Russia and one of the representatives of the Office of the President. After this, the Mass was said. It has just ended. People have been laying flowers.
About a thousand people should have been at the cemetery. All available space was filled with people. The beginning of the ceremony, as far as I know, was scheduled for 11.30. It was about this time that the first news about the disaster came through. At first it was expected that the news would be officially broken by the region’s governor, but he apparently was busy at the crash site, and only representatives of the Polish side came.
Naturally, everyone was shocked. Many of the people here had friends, some had relatives, in the aircraft with the president, because there were members of the public in the plane as well," said Yan Rachinsky, board member of the International Memorial Society.
The Memorial Society expresses its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have died.
The President of Poland, together with a large delegation, were flying to Smolensk on a private visit to attend ceremonies at Katyn where Poles shot by the NKVD in 1940 are buried.
The plane came down in a belt of forest on the edge of the city of Smolensk, on Kutuzova Street in North suburb, the regional Emergencies Ministry told Newsru.
The press and information department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the cause of the crash of the Polish President’s plane outside Smolensk was bad weather. "According to preliminary reports, the accident occurred due to the fact that the plane had to land at a military airfield near Smolensk in conditions of thick fog," the Press and Information Department said.
In Warsaw the Polish capital people are assembling in front of the Presidential Palace, bringing flowers and lighting candles to commemorate the victims of the terrible disaster.
Rights in Russia,
10 Apr 2010, 15:19