Unfortunately, they did not want to listen to us

Wieslawa Lewandowska talks to Antoni Macierewicz about the big fog, the manipulation of the truth, the Chicago Convention and public opinion as well as guilt, cost and responsibility for the plane crash.

Wieslawa Lewandowska: – The sessions of the Polish Parliament devoted to the Smolensk crash were extremely stormy and full of mutual accusations of the opposition and the ruling party. Therefore, one can doubt that the bill rejecting the MAK report in a symbolical and unanimous way will be accepted by the Polish Sejm…

Antoni Macierewicz, MP: – I would forejudge it. The decision of the Law and Justice Party to propose this bill to the Parliament shows Poland and the whole world that we do not agree to such an end to this investigation, and that we are going to struggle for a complete explanation. In this situation a clear stand of the Parliament becomes the only political basis for international actions. The remaining state organs, commencing with the Prime Minister, gave up or compromised themselves. The Parliament – the representation of the Nation – has remained. And let me remind you that during the last days it turned out that we have the declaration of the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso who said that he had wanted to intervene earlier and was still ready to do it… Similarly, the spokesman of the US Department of State stated that the USA would join the process of investigation of the tragedy if Poland appealed to them… But the Polish government has not made any request… Thus the stand of the Parliament is so important. And every MP, as well as every Pole, must realise that the decision of the Parliament would be of historical character.

– Some say that there has not been such needs and appropriate legal possibilities.

– That’s wrong. Firstly, there was no necessity to accept the procedure of Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention, which Russia forced on us and secondly, since December 2010 there have been new possibilities to act on the European forum. But when on 3 December, on behalf of the Parliamentary Team I sent a letter to the Prime Minster reminding him of the new binding EU law according to which the Polish government could and should appeal for help to the EU experts I was ignored…. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister did not listen to the opposition and international opinions but he depended only on Russia. And it turned out that nothing was settled that way, and instead we faced a political and legal disgrace of the Polish state. The Russians stated unambiguously that the procedures of the Chicago Convention were depleted. The Interstate Aviation Committee finished the investigation and the Russian committee accepted Anodina’s report and was dissolved… And additionally, we have a unanimous statement of the representative of the International Civilian Aviation Organisation that they would not investigate the crash of the Polish plane because it was a state and not a civil flight. And everything what has been established so far has no international legal grounds.

– What does it mean?

– It means that for nine months Poland has dealt with Russia on a law that does not exist; simply there is no such a law!

– And what about the Chicago Convention – as the Prime Minister ensured – the best possible legal basis?

– Definitely, it was not proper in this case and additionally, its regulations were not followed. There was even some manipulation. Article 3 of this Convention clearly states that it shall be applicable only to civil aircrafts and Article 82 says that contracting States undertake not to enter into any obligations and understandings which are not inconsistent with the terms of the convention. So it cannot be so that the States tell each other: it was a state aircraft but we recognise it as a civil one! But the Chicago Convention was used to a state flight as if it was a civil one. One must not do this since the Convention forbids it directly! It forbids manipulating its terms and at the same time terminates such decisions by virtue of law (Art. 82). If the contracting States take such actions the Convention will not protect them!

– But allegedly thanks to the acceptance of this Convention we have received so many documents and piece of evidence that the Polish commission can reveal ‘richer truth’ now…

– Another lie! Most documents reached Poland during the first days after the crash when until 15 April both parties acted on the basis of the Polish-Russian agreement of 1993. There were two committees: Polish military one directed by Colonel Miroslaw Grabowski and the Russian military one with a Russian general. There was also a joint session of the prosecutors and there is even a protocol of this session. Then all the main documents were sent to Poland. Our later demands were ignored.

– The Prime Minister keeps convincing us that the Chicago Convention is a great benefit for Poland whereas you claim that it is the cause of defeat!

– In this concrete matter the Chicago Convention served as a pretence for legal actions. It is a kind of smokescreen; one would like to say – fog hampering reaching the truth. We have been refused full information about the course of the investigation of the Smolensk crash. For nine months they have used some secret allegedly obliging the Polish party. No secret was effective since the Chicago Convention was not valid.

– The Polish public opinion has not got to known concrete facts until today and people are rather irritated about the information chaos on this topic!

– We have shown a violation of the law many a time. We wanted to draw attention – unfortunately, without the support of the media – to the fact that on virtue of the agreement signed on 31 May by Minister Jerzy Miller and the Tatiana Anodina, the head of MAK, and the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation the black boxes were given to the Russian party until the end of the legal proceedings. It is illegal and clearly contrary to the Chicago Convention that says that immediately after the completion of works by the organ investigating the circumstances of the crash the black boxes should be sent to the country – owner of the aircraft. Now it turned out that it also concerns the wreck. It is to remain in Russia until the end of legal proceedings!

– What for does Poland need such an unfavourable agreement?

– Exactly! Perhaps the Polish government, perhaps some day Minister Miller will explain us what forces them to such servilism towards Russia… They leave the proofs in the Russian hands; proofs that are being destroyed and which the Russians are manipulating, and our investigation is being delayed endlessly because we do not have access to the main evidence materials. But the Prime Minister, the government and the prosecutor are very satisfied with it. When we in turn asked the Prime Minister to appeal – according to the Chicago Convention – to the Russians to take over some investigation actions, e.g. concerning the wreck or black boxes he did not want to do it for some reason. He might have known that Poland’s acceptance of this Convention was only legal pretence since actually Russia was not going to work according to the regulations of this Convention and only was using its name to create thick fog around the whole affair?

– This fog and chaos around this matter is not accidental, not an effect of clumsiness?

– This chaos was created by the activities of the special services, the media, the influential Russian secret services… Let me remind you that all theses of Anodina’s report were known just a few hours after the crash. The Russian propaganda was excellently prepared and at once it was stated that it was the guilt of the Polish pilots, and that was pressure of the commanders and the President, that the pilots did not know Russian and took an irresponsible decision to land being under the pressure of their superiors who were in a hurry for the celebrations. Today we know that none of these were true but the MAK report repeats exactly the propaganda of 10 April. The unusual thing is that this propaganda has been accepted in Poland to such a large extent, both in the media and the authorities who, knowing it was a lie, support the Russians. It has turned out again how big possibilities Russia has in Poland. The most shocking thing is the attitude of the Prime Minister who, knowing ‘The remarks to the report’ made by the Polish specialists and knowing that all the fundamental theses of the MAK report were false, keeps repeating that ‘the Polish government does not question the main theses of the MAK report.’ It is as if after having discovered the Katyn massacre in 1943 Stanislaw Mikolajczyk kept repeating that ‘the fundamental establishment of facts of the Burdenko’s committee is true’…

– A considerable part of the Polish public opinion is convinced that the pilots and some passengers of the aircraft were guilty themselves but a comparable part of the public opinion does not reject the possibility of assassination. The investigation, which has been conducted so far, seemingly rejects such a version….

– The materials that have been made public recently, especially the conversations between the pilots and the air traffic controllers, show that the Russians are responsible for the crash. The air traffic controllers directed the Polish pilots wrongly to the very last moment, telling them that they ‘are on course and path’ although they were not. Moreover, the controllers’ actions were not independent. They had consulted the centre in Moscow. And at some moment there was a statement that Tu-154M ‘is being directed by Moscow.’ So the key decisions regarding the fate of our leaders were taken there… We learnt it a week after the MAK report had been published. But Prime Minister Tusk and Minister Miller had known about it for nine months! And they remained silent, tolerating leaks and suggestions that all blame should fall on the Polish pilots and General Blasik. The truth was hidden before Poles for nine months, allowing the worst invectives against our leaders, pilots, officers to spread all over the world. Prime Minister Tusk and Minister Miller hid the proofs of the Russian guilt and Polish innocence, tolerating a deceitful picture of events. And this is exactly an unprecedented action in our history…

– …why did they act that way? Couldn’t they act differently? Didn’t they want to do it?

– In Poland there are many people whom Russia paralyses with its very existence… But I can hardly understand such a co-operation that harms one’s country and good name of the Polish officers. From the perspective of time one can see that it was a general decision not to force the investigation too much. For example, despite our repeated demands neither the prosecutor general nor the investigating prosecutor nor the prosecutor of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office appealed to the Prime Minister of Poland to negotiate with the Russians some procedure to protect the wreck properly. The Polish prosecutors wrote only a letter to the Russian Prosecutor’s Office which answered that the matter of the wreck lay beyond their competence and is within the competence of MAK, and the whole matter was over. Similarly, the site of the crash, the black boxes, the protocols of the autopsies, which we have not received so far. The main witnesses were not questioned, not only the witnesses in Russia but also Donald Tusk, Radoslaw Sikorski, Jerzy Miller or Bogdan Klich. None have been questioned. And these people were responsible for organising the flight of President Kaczynski and have enormous knowledge on this crash. But they are not being interrogated as if some wait till they forget the details of the events they participated in… I think that the Prosecutor’s Office has not fulfilled its duties well enough.

– However, the Prime Minister stresses firmly that now he is counting on the Polish independent prosecutors – at the same time he keeps ensuring their independence – as regards the effects of their investigations. Do you think that one should not count on that?

– I referred only to some negligence of the prosecutors but if the Prime Minister believes in them so much I am astonished why he did not take any consequences regarding the opinion formulated by Colonel Krzysztof Parulski, the Chief Prosecutor, who as early as 12 April 2010 in Smolensk, talking to Colonel Edmund Klich (and we have the minutes of this conversation) clearly stated that ‘forcing Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention is a disadvantageous action for Poland.’ I add that Ryszard Parulski is not a member of PiS and even a sympathiser of this political line; he comes from a completely different option and different environment…

– What can we expect from the prosecutor’s investigation that is still being conducted in Russia?

– Nothing essential. The Public Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet is naively happy that MAK, having completed their works, sent all pieces of evidence to the Russian Prosecutor’s Office from which it will reach Poland easier… But the Russians prevented it legally. On 14 January 2011 they announced a considerable change of prosecution and juridical system of the Russian Federation – the prosecutor’s office was separated from the investigation committee, which was subordinated to Russia’s President. And all the pieces of evidence concerning the Smolensk crash were sent to this investigation committee… And recently it has been announced that they will remain there until the completion of the legal procedure.

– Perhaps a ‘quicker path’ between the heads of both states will be created?

– Perhaps, recently President Komorowski has stated that the Polish Parliament must not reject the MAK report... This is really a very quick reaction.

– Do you agree with the statement of the representatives of our government that ‘much fault lies on the Polish side?’

– Of course, I do not agree. It is falsity. I want to pay attention to the word ‘guilt’ used by Jerzy Miller, the head of the Polish committee. If we want to discuss with the government who is responsible for the improper preparation of the President’s visit, for the neglect in the investigation into the causes of the crash, we hear the answer: do not talk about guilt but let us settle the facts objectively; do not qualify guilt because it lies within the prosecutor’s competence and should not be dealt by politicians. But when it concerns the Polish pilots and General Blasik, President Kaczynski the same people speak about guilt. It is simply unfair.

– The Prime Minister spoke about the cost ‘we are to pay’, adding that he also meant his collaborators. Can we then expect that Miller’s committee will critically deal with the way of the preparation of the President’s visit to Katyn?

– I doubt it very much. This ‘beating one’s breast’ is only propaganda aiming at diminishing the social outrage. I do not think there is some political content behind it, especially any feeling of responsibility. The Prime Minister, shocked and terrified by the course of the events, submitted to Moscow diktat, wants to save face, to at least some extent, in the public opinion. But he is reaping the harvest of the nine months of hiding the truth from the nation, of the ruthless struggle against the remembrance of Lech Kaczynski and battue against the Law and Justice Party. He trusted Russia and saw that he was helpless.

– Oh, perhaps you are ‘provoking’ again and defending the political interests of ‘the extremely brutal opposition!’

– I am only defending the interests of the Polish state, which today is humiliated so much and endangered because of the inefficiency of its present leaders.

"Niedziela" 6/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl