WARSAW, Poland — The twin brother of the Polish president who died in a 2010 plane crash in Russia claimed Wednesday that the accident is looking increasingly like an assassination and called on the European Union to investigate.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski's appeal comes amid a backdrop of deep suspicions over the crash by some Poles, mainly people of a nationalist bent who distrust Moscow, which controlled Poland during the Cold War.
Many accept official Polish and Russian explanations pointing to fog and pilot error as the main causes of the accident. The plane crashed during an attempted landing at an airport near Smolensk, Russia, on April 10, 2010, killing President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others on board. The Polish investigation also faults confusing guidance given by Russian air traffic controllers, though Russians deny any blame.
Kaczynski, the head of the conservative Law and Justice party, and many of his supporters do not believe the official explanations. Kaczynski has often suggested that the accident might not have been an accident, but his comments Wednesday were stronger than usual.
"If there were explosions (on board), if this catastrophe looks increasingly like an assassination, then this means there is a new quality to international politics," Kaczynski said. He called on EU lawmakers and leaders to investigate the crash, arguing that it's a matter of importance not only to Poland.
The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk and many Poles view assassination theories as irrational. No proof has ever been put forth to indicate that the crash was intentional.
The disaster, which claimed the lives of the first lady and dozens of Polish civilian and military leaders, was the country's worst in decades and plunged the nation into shock and grief.
Kaczynski, who was very close to his twin brother, lamensted that there is now a "process of forced amnesia" in Poland over the crash, as the public has grown less interested in the subject. The late presidential couple's daughter, Marta Kaczynska, also appealed on Wednesday for an international investigation at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Those who suspect a Russian intent to harm the Polish president often remark that the plane, a Tupolev-154, was Russian-built and had been serviced in Russia not long before the crash. They argue that the Russians would have had motive because Kaczynski was a vocal critic of Moscow. In particular, Kaczynski took a strong stance against Russia when it went to war against Georgia in 2008.
Ties between Poland and Russia have long been strained. The Soviet Union invaded Poland's eastern half during World War II and dominated the country during the Cold War. Relations were also tense when Poland threw off communism and then joined NATO, but they had begun to improve before the 2010 crash.
Tusk's government is trying to build better ties with Moscow, something which Polish nationalists like Kaczynski – who are now in the opposition – view with disapproval.