A day of national mourning was observed in Russia on April 12. Political parties expressed their condolences to Polish people who lost the upper echelon of politicians and military leaders. The tragedy in the sky above Smolensk became a test for political maturity of many forces making claims for power in Russia. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to find words appropriate in tragic times.
President Lech Kaczynski’s Tu-154 went down on Saturday while trying to land near Smolensk airport “Severny.” The Polish leader had been travelling with a private visit to attend a memorial in the nearby Katyn. All aboard were killed, including President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of Polish political, military and religious leaders.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to the families of victims and to the Polish people in general. Vladimir Putin, leader of “United Russia,” Russian Prime Minister, arrived to Smolensk to lay flowers at the place of the crash together with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk.
“Fair Russia” party expressed its deep, sincere condolences. “I am convinced that my colleagues, friends and all Russians share my grief,” Sergey Mironov, the party leader, stated.
Addressing the Polish people, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said: “Please accept deep condolences from me and members of my fraction regarding the premature death of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria and all Polish citizens who died in the crash. We are grieving together with families and relatives of those who died. We address the words of support to all Polish citizens.”
Communist Party was the only party that made no more than a political statement last Saturday. A text was published on the party’s website that said that the death of the Polish President was a “sign and a very symbolic tragedy”.
"President Kaczynski and all leaders of the Polish government died in the crash near Smolensk on their way to another propagandist event in Katyn. Someone will say it is “God’s wreath.” Someone will say it is a “devilish joke” of history. Maybe, someone will try to use this tragic event to fuel the subsiding Russian-Polish conflict and even conflict between Russian and the West,” the statement goes.
Vladimir Putin was also mentioned in this statement: “Recent Putin’s apology in Katyn that was taken as a repentance of the leader of the defeated Russia only caused requests for new repentances and contributions from Russia to the West and Poland.”
Russian communists believe that “the new tragedy in Smolensk sky above Katyn may become another reason for new international humiliation of Russia and its isolation.” In this respect the Communist Party requested that “Russian officials stop defeating strategy in international matters and conflicts,” and called for thorough investigations of the catastrophe.
On Sunday afternoon, the text of the statement on the party website stopped opening, and on Monday the following lines were published instead: “The Communist Party representatives and the party supporters in these days of national grief of Poland also express deep and sincere condolences to families and friends of those who died in Smolensk crash, to all Polish people. Now the condolences accompany any party news published on the website.
Of course, President Lech Kaczynski’s position towards Russia could not be called pro-Russian. It was always controversial. Yet, the death of the President in a crash on the Russian territory is first and foremost a tragedy and not the reason for settling political scores.
This is something the left-wing patriots who deployed an on-line campaign against the declared national mourning day on April 12 are not able to understand. Same goes for ultra liberals who saw “Moscow’s hand” behind the crash of Tu-154 and habitually blamed Russian government.
We will certainly return to the politics in this tragic accident. For now, guests died in our house, and it is not traditional for the Russian culture to discuss their advantages and disadvantages.