Deputy FM sceptical of Russian call for legal aid over Smolensk crash

A motion from Russia's Prosecutor General for legal assistance over the 2010 Smolensk air disaster is difficult to treat as anything but a provocation, a Polish deputy foreign minister has said, adding that Russia is not proceeding legally in the matter.

Russia's Prosecutor General said on Wednesday it had filed a motion with the Polish Ministry of Justice for the transcript of a telephone conversation between the late President Lech Kaczyński and his brother, Deputy Prime Minister and ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, prior to the fatal crash of a Polish presidential flight on April 10, 2010.

Lech Kaczyński and 95 others were killed in the disaster at Smolensk, western Russia, including many high-ranking government and military figures.

Reporting on the prosecutor's motion, Russian news agency TASS said the move was an application for legal assistance "in a criminal matter concerning the air catastrophe (that killed - PAP) President Lech Kaczyński in 2010 at Smolensk, with a request to transfer a phonogram of his telephone conversation with his brother during the flight."

A spokesperson for Poland's National Prosecutor (PK), Ewa Balik, told PAP on Wednesday that the PK had no such recording or transcript.

Speaking on the Onet portal, Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said: "It's difficult to treat it other than a type of provocation because Russia does not respond to, among others, a resolution of the Council of Europe calling for an end to the investigation and the return of the wreckage above all, which is the property of the Polish state. It (Russia - PAP) has not responded to many motions of the Polish prosecutor, then suddenly remembers about the investigation and sends a motion to Poland. I do not treat this in any other way than in the category of, unfortunately, certain political games."

TASS reported on Wednesday that the Russian prosecutor's motion was the result of "new information" in Polish media. In that context, Russian news agency RIA Novosti mentioned an interview with ex-judge Wojciech Łączewski for Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza daily in which the former judge said that Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro was trying to discredit him because he had "extensive knowledge about what the CBA did in the times of Mariusz Kamiński, I also know the record of the last conversation of the Kaczyński brothers."

Szynkowski Vel Sęk dismissed Łączewski as "probably not the best person to attach great importance to his trustworthiness and statements."