The President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski has died in a plane crash in Russia. He was in Russia to commemorate the Katyn Massacre, a horrible event in Polish history where some of the best and brightest of Poland’s second republic were executed by the predecessor to the KGB.
Accompanying the president were the heads of all four branches of the military as well as the Governor of the National Bank of Poland.
According to the constitution, the speaker of the Sejm (lower house of the National Assembly), currently Bronislaw Komorowki, will now take power as the acting president of the Republic. Acting President Komorowski must call for an election within fourteen days. The election must take place within sixty days. Interestingly enough, Acting President Komorowski was running against the late President in Poland’s presidential elections this fall.
The airplane was a Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154, a model which is no longer being made. Officials of the Polish government have long requested new aircraft, given safety concerns over the safety over their aging Russian aircraft.
You can read more about this case here.
For the record, I’ve long had great admiration for Poland and its people. Against all odds, they have survived. At times, their nation was under Russian control, German control, or Austrian control during the Hapsburg era. Following World War II, Poland was in the orbit of Moscow and experienced the harsh realities of Stalinism. And yet, despite it all, Poland remains. It is not for nothing that the national anthem begins “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” or “Poland has not yet perished”. In some ways, their tenacity of spirit and determination to preserve their culture is much like the same Korean determination during the days of Japanese colonization.