Duda pays tribute to late presidential couple
Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, paid homage on Easter Monday to the late presidential couple who had died in an air disaster near Smolensk, Russia, 13 years ago.
"Thirteen years have passed since that day on April 10, 2010," Duda said at the tomb of the late Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria at the Wawel Castle cathedral in the southern city of Krakow.
Speaking about the late presidential couple and all the people who died in the air crash, Duda said that "they were people of merit who had done much for Poland."
Having expressed regret that they could not continue their work for the homeland, Duda declared that "we have been doing our best to continue their projects, I hope, just like they wanted to."
The aircraft carrying President Kaczynski, his wife and dozens of senior government officials and commanders of the Polish armed forces crashed as it came in to land at a military airfield near Smolensk, in western Russia, at 8:41 a.m., on April 10, 2010.
The delegation was on its way to nearby Katyn to attend events marking the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn Massacre, in which close to 22,000 Polish POWs, mainly army officers, policemen and administrative staff, were murdered at the hands of the Soviets.
"This year's Easter Monday has a special meaning for the Polish people," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Twitter on Monday, adding that it was both the 83rd anniversary of the Katyn Massacre and the 13th anniversary of the Smolensk air crash.
"Today, we are paying homage to the victims of the Katyn Massacre and all the persons who died in the Smolensk air crash," Morawiecki wrote.
"Their work for Poland's freedom and sovereignty have been and will always be a precious heritage for us," he said.
"We share the grief of the Polish people," the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter on Monday, paying homage to the late President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and all other victims of the Smolensk air crash.
Later in the day, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and brother of the late President Lech Kaczynski, laid wreaths, along with Morawiecki, at the monument commemorating the Smolensk crash victims in the Pilsudski Square in downtown Warsaw.
President Duda laid wreaths at the tombs of the victims of the air crash in the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw and at the monument commemorating the victims at the Powazki military cemetery. Later on Monday, he laid a wreath at the monument honouring the late president and at the monument commemorating the victims of the air crash in the Pilsudski Square.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party decided to move the main commemorations of the Smolensk air crash anniversary to Sunday, April 16, as April 10 is falling this year on Easter Monday.