Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk opened a day of commemoration on the third anniversary of the Smoleńsk air crash, by laying a wreath at the monument to the victims at Warsaw’s Powązki military cemetery.
The ceremony took place at 6am on April 10, 2013, three years after the plane carrying former President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other high-ranking political, military and civil figures crashed. The flight had been carrying them to Smoleńsk, Russia, where a service was to be held in memory of the 22,000 Poles shot dead at Katyń by the Soviets in 1943.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Tusk, of Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) said: “I believe that the day will come when this sad, tragic anniversary of the Smolensk air crash will not be divisive, and that Poles will be able to take part in joint reflection and prayer, without negative emotions.”
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the opposition Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) and brother of Lech Kaczyński, laid a wreath at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw at 8am.
In a statement released to the newspaper Nasz Dziennik, before the ceremony, Mr Kaczyński said that, on April 10 2013, “Poles lost a man in whom they deeply believed. He will be referred to as a statesman and as a defender of the Polish raison d’etat. And I, I lost a beloved brother and sister in law, my closest family on my mother’s side.”
Further ceremonies will be held throughout the day in Warsaw, in Katyń, and Smoleńsk, and cities around Poland. Marta Kaczyńska, daughter of the late president, will lay a wreath at her parents’ tomb in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków.