Plaque controversy mars Smolensk anniversary pilgrimage 09.04.2011 16:42 Original Smolensk plaque in memory of President Kaczynski and the 95 others who died,Message 1 of 1 , Apr 10, 2011View Source
Plaque controversy mars Smolensk anniversary pilgrimage09.04.2011 16:42Original Smolensk plaque in memory of President Kaczynski and the 95 others who died, 10 April 2010; photo - PAPUPDATED - Families of victims, and First Lady Anna Komorowska, gathered for the one year ceremonies of the Smolensk plane crash were shocked, Saturday, to find that the Russians have made a last minute change to the wording of the commemorative plaque to the 10 April disaster at the site of the tragedy in western Russia.
Spokesman for the Governor of Smolensk District, Andrei Yevseienkov confirmed information about the removal of the original plaque recalling the 96 victims of the catastrophe, including President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, near Severnyi military airport.
The Russian spokesman limited his statement to saying that the Polish language original had been replaced on the eve of the anniversary ceremonies by a plaque in both Polish and Russian.
However, the new one is missing reference to the Katyn massacre anniversary, which was the object of the presidential trip last year when the plane crashed.
The spokesman revealed the old plaque is to be transferred to the museum at Katyn Forest.
The victims’ families have expressed indignation with the action which, they stress, was not taken in consultation and agreement with them.
Poland’s Foreign Ministry has asked the Russian side for an explanation of the decision, but has not received any official response on the matter as yet.
One hundred and three family members of victims of the Smolensk air disaster, accompanied by First Lady Komorowska, are on the remembrance pilgrimage to Russia on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy.
The commemorations started in the morning at the cold and snowy site of the crash of the presidential plane near Severnyi military airport in Smolensk. The place is marked by part of the plane wreck protruding from one of the trees which it hit upon approaching the airfield in conditions of dense fog on 10 April last year.
Earlier, wreaths and flowers were laid from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev as well as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and on behalf of the Russian nation.
Names of all the 96 victims on board the tragic flight have been read out at a ceremony held by the stone obelisk next to the site, with each of those killed honoured by a cross formed from commemorative lights.
Representatives of the victims’ families have also gathered for prayers at the place where the wreck of the Polish presidential plane is being stored for investigation. For reasons of privacy no media have been allowed to cover this part of the pilgrimage.
Later in the day, the group is to travel to Katyn Forest to the cemetery of Polish soldiers for an ecumenical remembrance ceremony. This is to be a symbolic completion of the mission of their tragically deceased near ones.
Last year on 10 April a group of top ranking Polish officials, military and representatives of NGOs were travelling on board the presidential plane for ceremonies at Katyn, to observe the 70th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviet NKVD in the first months of World War Two.
None of the delegation, including President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Maria, as well as crew members, survived the crash just short of their landing destination at Smolensk. (ss/pg)http://www.thenews.pl/international/artykul153010_plaque-controversy-mars-smolensk-anniversary-pilgrimage.html