Council of Europe urges Russia to return Smoleńsk wreckage

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg adopted a resolution on Friday urging Russia to return to Poland the wreckage of the presidential plane which crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10, 2010.

The resolution states that under Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention, Russia had to return the wreckage to Poland once the technical air safety investigation was completed, which happened in January, 2011 (with the publication of the report of the Russian Inter-State Aviation Committee of 12 January 2011).

"The continuing refusal of the Russian authorities to return the wreckage and other evidence constitutes an abuse of rights and has fuelled speculation on the Polish side that Russia has something to hide," the document reads.

The resolution calls on the Russian Federation "to hand over the wreckage of Polish Air Force Tu-154M to Poland without further delay."

The document was drafted by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt of the European People's Party. Work on the resolution lasted for several years.

On April 10, 2010, President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and dozens of senior government and military officials died in the Smoleńsk air disaster when their government plane crashed near a military airfield in the city of Smoleńsk, killing all 96 people on board. Russia has since refused to return the wreckage, claiming the investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

The official delegation headed by President Kaczyński was on its way to nearby Katyń to attend events marking the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyń Forest Massacre in which around 22,000 Polish officers and members of the intelligentsia were murdered at the hands of the Soviets.