Russia bids farewell to Kaczynski; body arrives in Poland
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today bade farewell to the body of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a crash, at a solemn ceremony with full military honours.world Updated: Apr 11, 2010 21:12 IST
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Sunday bade farewell to the body of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a crash, at a solemn ceremony with full military honours.
The body arrived in Polish capital Warsaw this evening from Russia where he was killed along with his wife Maria and 94 others when his Russian-built jet came down in thick fog near Smolensk yesterday on the way to a memorial service for 22,000 Poles massacred by Soviet troops in World War II.
On the tarmac of the military aerodrome Severny in Smolensk region, Putin placed flowers on the coffin with the remains of Kaczynski draped in Polish flag.
After the national anthems of Poland and Russia, the guard of honour saluted the Polish leader and his body was flown aboard a special aircraft of the Polish Air Force to Warsaw.
"This is first and foremost Poland's tragedy and that of the Polish people, but this is also our tragedy, and we mourn with you and grieve with you," Putin was quoted as telling Polish television.
Ambassador Bar of Poland, who was present at the ceremony, told reporters that the body of Kaczynski's wife Maria has not been identified and would be sent later, RIA Novosti reported.
Earlier reports suggested that last night Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw had identified both of them.
A probe headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has blamed pilot error as the cause of the crash in dense fog on the approaches of the Severny military aerodrome, in which top polish political and military leaderships were wiped out.
Meanwhile, a top Russian investigator today said the Polish Presidential aircraft was technically fit.
Head of the Prosecutor-General's Investigation Committee Alexander Bastrykin told Putin that the deciphered flight recorders have confirmed absence of technical problems with the plane.
The two flight recorders of the ill-fated aircraft are being deciphered in Moscow jointly by the Russian and Polish experts.
"The pilot was informed about complex weather conditions and, nevertheless, made a decision on landing," Bastrykin said.
Poland was swept by a wave of grief and mourners turned out in tens of thousands, many waving the red and white Polish flag, lighting candles and placing flowers at the presidential palace.
In Warsaw and other Polish cities, thousands poured onto the streets to express their grief over the disaster that also killed their last President-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer, Army Chief of Staff Gen Franciszek Gagor and National Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek.