Poland seeks Russian help to mark Smolensk air disaster, Katyn Massacre

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Poland had requested Russia's help in organising the visit, to be headed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and said that Russia was in constant touch with Poland in the matter. Maxim Shipenkov/PAP/EPA

Russia is working to meet Poland's request for help in organising an official visit to Smolensk and Katyn on April 10 to commemorate the 2010 Smolensk air disaster and the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

April 10 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Smolensk air disaster, which killed Poland's then president Lech Kaczyński 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 Katyn Forest Massacre, in which Soviet security forces mass-executed 22,000 Polish POWs, mainly army officers, policemen and administration staff.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Katyn executions.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Poland had requested Russia's help in organising the visit, to be headed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and said that Russia was in constant touch with Poland in the matter. She added that procedures related to the visit were taking place in acknowledgement of the current coronavirus epidemic.

Asked about the matter on private radio on Thursday, Polish Deputy PM Jacek Sasin said the Polish side wanted the visit to take place, but was uncertain if it could go ahead.

Morawiecki's aide, Michał Dworczyk, said on Thursday that because of the epidemic, the visit will be possible only if it can be carried out safely.