THIS VISIT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL
Wieława Lewandowska talks with Piotr Bączek about the neglecting attitude of the state institutions towards the presence of President at the ceremonies in Katyń in 2010, neglects, a bad will of the supreme offices and the influence of foreign services
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: - Newspapers informed that the authors of the document ‘Smoleńsk report. The state of investigations’ collected high fees. Did you earn a lot, by writing texts to the chapter ‘The system of security and the Smoleńsk tragedy’?
PIOTR BĄCZEK: - Zero! None of the co-authors received any fee! It was either a social work or work done within duties resulting from the participation in the parliamentary team. One could rather ask about fees of experts from the team of Mr Lasek, because it were their wages which significantly, even three times exceeded the amount of the average national salary. Comparing financial possibilities of both teams, it is seen that we are the poor. And despite that, in the Seym team a few essential documents were created under the supervision of Antoni Macierewicz. So talking about our ‘high’ salaries is a deliberate de-information, another example of diverting attention from the essence of the problem, another smokescreen.
– It is quite sad, but social work for the sake of the country, for the so-called ‘heartfelt thanks’, is generally thought to be hardly worth amateurism. And so, unfortunately, the work of the team is often evaluated…
– In this case, it is necessary to ask the question, for example, whether the former directors of Offices of Government Protection, Agency of Inner Security, An Association of Accountants in Poland, who were in duty for a dozen years, are not really professionals? Those people worked both for the leftist and the rightist governments and it was the Civic Platform which forced them to resign from their posts… And on what basis is professionalism denied, which relates to professors of foreign and Polish universities, working for the sake of the Seym team? In fact there appears a basic question here: Why doesn’t the Polish country want to use the knowledge and experiences of these people, like the common correction of Miller’s report?
– Certainly, it seems that politicians of the governing coalition do not want to investigate the reasons of the Smoleńsk catastrophe any longer, they want to end this topic quickly, in order to bring a relief to the society which, is allegedly tired of remembering about the catastrophe. Therefore the governmental experts have obviously neglected this last ‘Smoleńsk report’ and they are not even trying to discuss the thesis included in it.
– And this is an important document, which is inconvenient for the governmental party though, because it describes mistakes, neglects and organizational defects in these state institutions in details, which were to provide the security of the visit by the president Lech Kaczyński in Katyń. It also points to later defects in work of Miller’s commission.
– However, what is the most interesting in it, is the clear way of presenting what was investigated the least – like just this journey of the President had been treated with neglect.
– That’s true. It is impossible to conceal the fact that the services failed. But the directors were later awarded with many promotions…Why? The activity of services was not later analyzed or investigated by the prosecution in the so-called civil thread. The prosecution dealt with the actions of the Office of the Government Protection, but not other services (for example Agency of Inner Security, Agency of Intelligence, the Service of Military Counterintelligence and the Service of Military Intelligence), although they had an important influence on preparing the visit. The binding rule in the services – anyway it was so during the government of the Law and Justice party –is the fact that before every foreign visit of the head of the state, a situation prognosis of a visited region is prepared.
– And wasn’t it so this time?
– Everything points to the fact that before 10 April 2010 there had not been this kind of prognosis nor any analysis, and if they appeared somewhere, they included incomplete transmission of information. What is the least surprising because during a few weeks just before the celebrations in Katyń in Russia, there had been a dozen of terroristic assassinations, and in Kirgistan there had been a coup. So, the situation was, in fact, uncertain. So it should have been assumed that it might be some unexpected events, also during the Polish celebrations; especially that there was also a warning about a possibility of the EU airplane hijacking. The very information should have caused an increase of the security degree of the flight of the Polish President. The task of the services was to elaborate a black scenario. For, it is not difficult to imagine that in such an uneasy atmosphere, someone might have wanted to cause a bigger international scandal.
– Whereas in Poland nobody got worried about it and can it be said that the issue was ignored?
– The information about the hijacking got to the Polish police, which gave it to suitable services. However, although the services knew about it, they did not undertake suitable actions, not saying that Polish fighters were put on alert. Whereas, there was neither an increased team of the Office of the Government Protection at the airport in Smoleńsk, nor special securing actions had been done before the take-off.
– Why? Does it concern ordinary carelessness and mediocrity of the state institution?
– Here we can make various assumptions and they all are quite probable. One of them is the fact that it might have been about discrediting the whole presidential visit and the very president Kaczyński.
– This visit had been so badly prepared by the government that it could not have been successful. There were not only special protections, suitable information about potential dangers but it was also protected in a worse way than other all foreign visits of this kind. There might not have been an assumption about such a bad scenario which happened, but surely political competitors had secretly hoped that ‘another discrediting’ of the Polish president might happen.
– Who wanted it the most?
– Those all people who hated him, who found him as an obstacle. Therefore, the rank of this visit had already been diminished in diplomatic talks with Moscow. According to the Polish Foreign Ministry, it was not an official visit. The Polish diplomacy did not take care of it so well as it had cared about the earlier visit of the prime minister Tusk. In contrary – everything was done to prevent that visit from being successful. Because then it would have been possible to show that the president Kaczyński had failed to do something again and, for example, the Polish television TVN would have been able to broadcast it.
– To which extent did this neglect of the visit of the president Kaczyński result from the atmosphere coming from Kremlin?
– Undoubtedlythere had been a common game of the government of Tusk and the government of Putin. Talks about the celebration in Katyń, as one of the officials admitted, had already started in autumn 2009. In December 2009 the representatives of the President’s Office pointed out that there might be a situation that Russia would solve Polish disagreements between the prime minister and the president in order to discredit Poland in the international arena. Minister Mariusz Handzlik, responsible for international issues in the President’s Office, sent a special note on this issue to minister Tomasz Arabski from the Prime Minister’s Office, who passed it to the secretary of the Collegium for Special Services at that time, Jack Cichocki.
– And did its trace got lost here?
– Yes. For the time being, it has been impossible to get the documents on this issue. So, there is no answer why special procedures of the visit protection were not taken.
– One can make a hypothesis with high degree of probability that both offices - of Putin and Tusk – were acting accordingly so as to discredit the visit of the President that, for example, the clumsy President would be late for the ceremonies in Katyń. And it would be later used in the presidential campaign….And Kaczyński would be a loser.
– Are we talking about a conspiracy theory, and in the highest levels?!
– No, we are talking about a very probable scenario.
– And are we talking about deliberate neglects in preparing the visit of the President Kaczyński in Katyń?
– If we do not assume here any bad intention we must at least answer the question why Polish services and state institutions did not meet the statutory liabilities. We do not know how further ceremonies would have been proceeding, if the President had landed in Smoleńsk successfully. Wouldn’t there have been any strange organizational complications? We are only wondering whether it was only sloppiness, messy neglect or quite an impudent boycott of the President.
– Not without a reason the ‘Smoleńsk Report’ reminds about the so-called Georgian incident as a strong signal of discrediting president Kaczyński.
– Yes. In 2008 people of the Civic Platform (following the suggestions of Kremlin) suggested that shooting the presidents of Poland and Georgia might have been organized by the president of Saakashvilia. The Polish government ignored this incident and at the same time it gave a signal of acquiescence that the Polish president can be ignored with impunity. At that time there appeared satiric comments of important politicians, like: ‘Like a visit, such assassination is’; ‘From such a distance even a blind sniper would have aimed’….Since 2007 the industry of contempt towards the president Kaczyński has been working at full capacity.
– And it can be said that it has been working till now, with little break just after the catastrophe…
– Unfortunately, yes…. Therefore I do not say that in 2010 there were only deliberate neglect from the very special services. It concerns the whole atmosphere in all important institutions of the country and in media. According to the report of, among the others, Witold Waszczykowski - a vice-director of the National Security Office at that time – the director of the Foreign Ministry acknowledged the decision about not giving more important information of the sphere of foreign relations to the President. One can only suspect - because the team of Antoni Macierewicz is still in the investigation sphere – that the President was treated by the institutions dealing with security in a similar way.
– Did the mechanism of acquiescence for ignoring the President govern the state institutions?
– Yes. Therefore I stress that today we must talk not so much about the neglect of the state services, but about the political will of their superiors, that is, the government. The very services are structures which are strictly hierarchical and are fulfilling requirements.
– In the ‘Smoleńsk report’ there are suggestions about the influence of the Russian services on the Polish decisions during the preparation of the ceremonies in Katyń in 2010.
– Yes. And, in fact, it had already been in 2008 when the ‘Georgian report’, made by the Agency of Inner Security, proved that Polish special services are very susceptible to political affairs from the governing people of other countries…And in 2010 this phenomenon was very severe. Polish services were not even supervising a tender for the repair of the airplane TU-154 M-1, in fact, were not supervising the very repair (not including one helpless soldier), whereas the Russian services must have been watching carefully.
– Now the ‘Report’ shows how many unclear circumstances caused the situation that instead of the desired ‘beautiful discrediting’ of the Polish President, a tragic catastrophe happened…
– Maybe nobody had assumed such a black scenario….However, the behavior of some people seems shocking, both before and after the tragic day of 10 April 2010. The Polish diplomat Tomasz Turowski, remaining in a shadow of Smoleńsk discussions, accused of unsuitable fulfilling a task of organizing the visit of the president Lech Kaczyński – after 10 April he became famous for a scandalous statement for the Russian radio station Finam in which he stated that ‘good Polish- Russian relations will come from the blood of the casualties’.
– The same was said in Warsaw by the representatives of the Polish government just in the first days after the catastrophe.
– And it was really unworthy, as if they said that now nobody was an obstacle in achieving a new opening to the East. – Katyń is a perfect place for prime ministers of both countries to reach an agreement at the graves of Polish officers – stated prof. Adam Rotfeld, a fervent promoter of the so-called a reset of Polish-Russian relations. He repeated his argument at the Warsaw University just after the Smoleńsk tragedy.
– The President had stopped being an obstacle….
– President Lech Kaczyński, with his different moral-political opinion about the Katyń crime and a different geopolitical vision as well as historical policy, was not inscribed into the policy of the ‘reset’ with Kremlin. Therefore he was discouraged with various methods to participate in the Katyń ceremonies. Therefore, the rank of that visit was diminished, even at the cost of elementary requirements of safety.