Poland puts off marking Smolensk air disaster in Russia

Wojciech Pacewicz/PAP

The Polish government delegation will not go to Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the fatal presidential plane crash and the 80th anniversary of the mass killings of Polish officers by the Soviets, the Prime Minister's Office said.

The visit will take place at a later date, PM's Office head Michal Dworczyk said on Friday.

The government earlier said the delegation may consist of some 50 people, including Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a group of ministers and parliamentarians and Poland's ruling party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski, who died in the 2010 plane crash.

Dworczyk said Poland had been in dialogue with Russia since early February, but by Thursday night Russia had not given the Polish government a clear answer in writing concerning the logistic details of the visit.

Dworczyk added that this made it impossible to organise the visit in line with security procedures.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Russia was in contact with Poland over the visit, taking into account the context of the global coronavirus crisis.

April 10 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Smolensk air disaster, which killed Poland's president and a large number of top state and military officials during a failed landing attempt at an airfield in Smolensk, western Russia. The delegation was en route to nearby Katyn for commemorations of the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre, in which Soviet security forces mass-executed 22,000 Polish POWs, mainly army officers, policemen and administration staff.