Polish Leaders to Blame for Crash That Killed Prez: Report

Russian investigation says crew was under psychological pressure
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2011 10:54 AM CST
Plane Crash That Killed Polish President Caused by Psychological Pressure on Pilots From Polish Leaders: Report
In this April 11, 2010 file photo, Russian investigators work near the wreckage of the Polish presidential plane, that crashed just outside the Smolensk airport, western Russia.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, file)

The plane crash that killed Poland’s president and 95 others can be blamed, at least partially, on Polish leaders, Russian investigators have determined. In a report that shifts responsibility away from the crew of the plane, investigators say the pilots, who crashed at a Russian airport, were under psychological pressure to get the president where he needed to go despite being aware of dangerous weather conditions.

Specifically, the report notes that the commander of Poland’s air force was in the cockpit—with an elevated blood alcohol level—before the crash, which put pressure on the pilots. Even though a cockpit transcript found that the president himself hadn’t given any instructions, investigators said the pilots “could have expected a negative reaction” from him had they diverted the plane. The report could further fracture an already-tense relationship between the two countries, even though initial sympathetic overtures from Russia appeared to open up a path to reconciliation, the New York Times reports.
(More Poland stories.)

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