This article by Prof. Eugene Poteat appeared in the Charleston Mercury on July 24, 2012. Please click here for the full article.
Only a fool will make his doctor his heir. – Russian proverb
Editor’s Note: On April 10, 2010, an airplane carrying the entire top echelon of the Polish government crashed in Smolensk, Russia, killing all 93 Polish officials onboard. Russia claimed the crash was due to pilot error attempting the landing in bad weather, along with the usual regrets for the tragedy. Russians quickly cleared the crash site, removed and locked all bodies in sealed caskets and confiscated the plane’s black boxes. The Mercury, shortly after the crash, published an article by Gene Poteat suggesting the crash was no accident, but more likely a Russian-arranged crash to decapitate the pro-NATO Polish government. The Mercury placed the article on its website, spreading it worldwide via the Internet. The article was picked up, translated and published in Poland, where it created outcries for an official investigation. These investigations, carried out by highly qualified Polish and Western experts, are now concluding the crash was indeed not an accident. Poteat’s article below brings us up to date on the emerging revelations from these investigations.
Shortly after the crash, Russia produced an official report, known as the MAK (Interstate Aviation Committee) Report, declaring pilot error the cause of the crash: a consequence of attempting to land in bad weather, with onboard officials urging the pilot to land in spite of the weather. The direct cause of the accident, according to the report, was the airplane striking a birch tree, severing the left wing, causing the plane to crash into the ground short of the runway.
Accidents happen. But Russia’s actions immediately after the crash – unusually swift and unprecedented – reflected actions akin to a criminal cleaning up the crime scene, not a concerned nation seeking answers. Instead, they quickly bulldozed the crash site, confiscated the airplane’s black boxes and prevented examination by others. The control tower operator, who had been in contact with the airplane during the approach, quickly disappeared. The recovered bodies were sealed in locked caskets, no viewings permitted. Even the birch tree, for some odd only-in-Russia reason, was dug up by the roots and removed. To the Russians: case closed.