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Kaczynski rules out twin brother pressured air crew to land

RIA Novosti

17:1727/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late Polish president who died in a plane crash in April, ruled out on Thursday that the air crew of the ill-fated presidential aircraft might have been pressured into landing.

The Soviet-made Tu-154 aircraft crashed on April 10 near the western Russian city of Smolensk when it attempted to land in thick fog, killing all 96 people on board, including President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other top state officials

Shortly after the tragedy, there was media speculation that the pilot made the dangerous attempt to land due to pressure from Polish officials anxious to attend a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, in which Soviet secret police executed thousands of Polish military officers.

"Accusations against the president are groundless," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in an interview with Spain's EFE news agency.

In August 2008, Lech Kaczynski got into a dispute with a pilot flying his plane to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, demanding the pilot land regardless of the dangerous conditions. However, the pilot disobeyed the order and landed in the neighboring Azerbaijani capital of Baku.

"These two cases have nothing in common. [In Georgia] there was no risk in landing, other planes had already landed, [while in Smolensk] very risky decisions were made, according to the media," he said.

More than six weeks after Lech Kaczynski died in the plane crash, his twin brother told their 83-year-old mother about the tragedy. Doctors warned that Jadwiga Kaczynski, who was undergoing treatment in the cardiology unit of a Warsaw hospital, was in too fragile a condition to cope with the news.

"It seems that she will recover, despite the news about my brother... but everything is in God's hands," he said.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who heads Poland's Law and Justice party, is one of the frontrunners of the forthcoming early presidential elections, to be held on June 20.

He pledged to make energy issues his top priority if elected, and vowed to pursue a "more realistic neighborhood policy" in relations with Poland's eastern neighbors.



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