Saturday, April 10, 2010

Polish President Lech Kaczynski Dead: Poland, Russia and Videos

You've probably heard the news by now.
"Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed early Saturday along with his wife, several top military officials, and the head of the national bank when their plane crashed at a western Russian airport, officials said.

" 'There are no survivors,' said Sergey Antufyev, the governor of Smolensk, where the plane was trying to land when it crashed. Russian emergency officials said 97 people died. Kaczynski was 60.

"Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski took over as acting president and declared it 'a time for national mourning.'

"Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the country would hold two minutes of silence at midday Sunday for the victims. Russia has declared Monday as a day of mourning.

"World leaders pay tribute to Kaczynski

"Kaczynski had been traveling with the Polish delegation to Russia for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn. Some 20,000 Polish officers were executed there during World War II...."
First, my condolences and prayers are with the people who died in that crash, their family and friends.

The Katyn Massacre, Poland, Russia, and a Burning Wreckage

"Katyn" is a name that quite a few Poles remember. And for good reason:
"...Of all the crimes in World War II, the most puzzling has been the massacre known as "Katyn Forest." After the defeat of Polish forces at the hands of the Nazi and Soviet forces in the autumn of 1939, the Soviet side received a majority of the Polish army's officer corps. When Germany turned against its former ally, the Germans came across mass graves in the Katyn Forest. In 1943 the Germans exhumed around 4000 corpses, and made it public as irrefutable proof of Soviet barbarity. In 1944 Soviet authorities exhumed the bodies again and thereafter steadfastly maintained that the Germans had in fact committed the crime. Not until the fall of the Soviet Union did the new leaders of Russia acknowledge that in 1940 their government had ordered the murder of 27,000 Polish officers...."
More specifically, Josef Stalin had signed the order to kill those Poles. ( Embarrassing, rather.

But, that was the Soviet Union. Russia has some new faces in leadership positions now: and seems eager for everybody to put that sort of thing behind them and accept the new Russia.

Forgiveness is a good idea, I think. On the other hand, killing 27,000 people that way is something that their surviving family and friends aren't likely to forget all that soon.

"Heavy fog & human error possible causes of Lech Kaczynski plane crash in Russia"

RussiaToday, YouTube (April 10, 2010)
video, 7:53

"The President of Poland, and his wife have died in a plane crashed in Western Russia. At this early stage, investigators say it's likely human error was the cause of the crash. For more on the story we can now cross live to our correspondents Daniel Bushell outside the Russian Foreign Minister and Katerina Azarova near the Kremlin."

'Everybody Knows' What Them Roosians are Like?

I don't know how many folks here in America will immediately assume that anything with "Russia" in the source's name is all lies. I recommend viewing - and listening to - the Russia Today video. There's a pretty good review of the Katyn Massacre in the last half. The Katyn Massacre is one of those 'non-events that never happened' - but someone neglected to have the documents shredded. Stalin's signature was on at least one of them.

A bit of an embarrassment, putting it mildly, for the worker's paradise: but that was then, this is now. I'm no big fan of the current Russian regime: but there are a few new people in leadership positions, and - stating the obvious - this isn't the 20th century any more.

I've run out of time for the moment: I plan to come back, later today, to wrap up this post.

Over Eight Dozen Killed: The Smolensk Crash Will be In News For a While

News and op-ed, of course: together with the usual mix of the two.
  • "Kaczynski: a 'combative' patriot"
    Deutsche Welle (April 10, 2010)
    • "Polish President Lech Kaczynski was a "combative European" and a patriot. Saturday’s disaster in Smolensk brought his life to an unexpected and tragic end...."
  • "Kaczynski Often a Source of Tension Within E.U."
    The New York Times (April 10, 2010)
    • "Lech Kaczynski, the president of Poland, died Saturday after his plane crashed on route to Katyn, in western Russia, where he was due to commemorate the murder 70 years ago of thousands of Polish officers, according to the Polish foreign ministry. He was 60 years old...."
The next paragraphs in The New York Times explains why the late President was a "source of tension" in the European Union:
"...Mr. Kaczynski was elected president in 2005 as his twin brother, Jaroslaw, was swept into power as leader of the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice government. This unique constellation of power, led by identical twins, often put Poland on a collision course with its European Union partners and Russia.

"As soon as he took office in the presidential headquarters in the center of Warsaw, Mr. Kaczynski forged very close relations with Ukraine and Georgia, determined to bring them closer to NATO and eventually have them admitted to the American-led military organization.

"But his staunch defense of these two countries often upset leading members of the E.U., especially Germany, which was concerned that an expanded NATO would threaten Russia, or lead to new East-West tensions...."
(The New York Times)
I see The New York Times' point. Upstart leaders of little countries that aren't part of the 'in crowd' can be annoying, when they don't know their place. So can people who don't - or won't - act the way 'their kind' is expected to. ("Barack Obama: Upstart Young Whippersnapper?" (August 26, 2008))

If Germany and other old-guard European countries seem a bit jittery about Russia, they may think they have a good reason. I suppose that the Soviet Union's habit of shooting first and asking questions later (if at all?) left a lasting impression.

Shooting down Korean Air Flights 902 (1978) and 007 (1983) may not have been a good idea, from a public relations point of view. Sure, the Soviet Union's been gone for about two decades, and there are a few new faces in leadership positions. But it takes a long time to change a reputation.

I've got more to say: but it's even more off-topic. Time to make the final edit on this post: Another news video.

"Polish president dies in crash"

NTVKenya, YouTube (April 10, 2010)

"It's is a day of mourning in Poland where the countrys president and tens of top government officials have been killed in a plane crash in Western Russia. The Polish President Lech Kaczynski, was leading the delegation to a World War commemoration event when the plane came down in thick fog.
"Gladys Mutiso reports."

The videos are scaled to fit this blog's format: I suggest following the links to the YouTube original posts, if they don't display properly.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.