News | Poland | Russia | Transportation

Polish President, First Lady, 94 Others Perish in Plane Crash


A plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the first lady, and dozens of top government and military officials crashed in a bleak forest outside Smolensk, Russia in heavy fog as it attempted a landing. All aboard perished. The contingent from Poland was traveling to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre by the Soviet secret police of thousands of Polish officers in World War II.

Lech There were conflicting reports of the number of people aboard, from 96 up to 132.

The AP reports: "The crash devastated the upper echelons of Poland's political and military establishments. On board were the army chief of staff, national bank president, deputy foreign minister, army chaplain, head of the National Security Office, deputy parliament speaker, civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers, the Polish foreign ministry said. It was not expected to directly affect the functioning of Polish government, however: Poland's president is commander in chief of its armed forces but the position's domestic duties are chiefly symbolic. The prime minister and other top government ministers were not aboard the plane."

The plane was a 26-year-old Tupolev jet. It did not reach the runway:

"The crash site was cordoned off, but Russian media reported that the airplane’s crew made several attempts to land before a wing hit the treetops and the plane crashed about half a mile from the runway. Correspondents reporting from the scene said the plane’s explosion was so powerful that fragments of it were scattered as far as the outskirts of Smolensk, more than a mile from the crash site itself."

I have written much about Kaczynski over the past few years, as well as his twin brother Jaroslaw, the former Prime Minister who is suspected to be gay. President Kaczynski was virulently anti-gay. 

In 2008, he broadcast, without permission, a wedding video of American couple Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton on Poland's national television to illustrate a presidential address he was giving warning the nation that supporting the Lisbon Treaty, which is linked to the EU Charter of Human Rights, would mean that same-sex marriage could come to Poland.

In 2007, on a state visit to Ireland, Kaczynski came under fire for remarks he made that gays would destroy the human race. Said the President on his decision to ban a Gay Pride parade: "If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear. Imagine what grand changes would occur in mores if the traditional links between men and women were set aside."

It was a sentiment he had expressed before, as the Mayor of Warsaw.

Izabela Also aboard the plane was Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, who served as Poland's deputy prime minister between 2004 and 2005 and was an outspoken critic of Lech Kaczynski's homophobic policies when he was Warsaw mayor.

Pink News reports

"Kaczynski as mayor of Warsaw repeatedly banned gay pride marches from taking place within the capital. Jaruga-Nowacka spoke out at a banned event in 2005: 'We are for democracy,' she told the crowd. 'We are for protection of all human rights, not only for some groups who are in the majority in Poland. All citizens have the right to choose their own way of life.' Adding: 'I am here to express my protest against the Mayor’s decision which is a violation of the Polish constitution and of civic rights. I am here to show my respect for the Polish tradition of tolerance.' She regularly spoke at other gay rights rallies where she suffered verbal abuse from extremist nationalists and Christian groups."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would personally head the investigation into the plane crash.

Watch a report on the plane crash from Russia Today, AFTER THE JUMP...

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Forgive me while I feel less than sorry that Kaczynski is gone.

    On the other hand, Jaruga-Nowacka will be missed most greatly.

    Posted by: ravewulf | Apr 10, 2010 1:57:03 PM

  2. a plane crash is tragic, 96 deaths are tragic.
    it is also tragic that this man had to die in order to give the LGTB of Poland hope for a better life.

    Posted by: samthor | Apr 10, 2010 2:00:08 PM

  3. Boo hoo hoo, you guys aren't being nice to our could you be so heartless?

    I don't give a shit if you think I'm heartless, ugly, have no compassion or whatever. The guy died a horrible death, and I'm glad. If I was close by, I'd throw a bottle of bar-b-que sauce at the wreckage.

    Posted by: Richard | Apr 10, 2010 2:08:47 PM

  4. It wasn't very bright to put so many top-echelon people on one rickety old plane - oh wait, we're talking Poland here.

    Posted by: niles | Apr 10, 2010 2:59:24 PM

  5. Nor was it sharp to dump fuel to make room for pierogies. Nor was it intelligent to make a last minute change with the pilot for a truck driver. Nor was it smart to try to back up in midair. But it's poland...phew! I wasn't first, so screw you haters.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 10, 2010 3:09:08 PM

  6. Richard, Niles, Tank et al who find glee in this tragedy.

    I really feel sorry for you; what miserable souls you must have.

    Posted by: Christopher | Apr 10, 2010 3:20:46 PM

  7. All life has value and no one is past redemption. This is a tragedy.

    Tomorrow is soon enough to honestly consider that life's work. Today is for respecting the fragility of life.

    Posted by: Quakerjono | Apr 10, 2010 3:21:45 PM

  8. they were trying to avoid the clouds. that's it...I'm done.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 10, 2010 3:22:47 PM

  9. This man's legacy has been reduced to a plane crash photo. You should replace it with something a little more respectful.

    Try the photo on the President's website.,118,may-they-rest-in-peace-.html

    Posted by: Jake Orlando | Apr 10, 2010 3:24:04 PM

  10. I deeply mourn the loss of 95 of the 96 lives lost on that plane.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Apr 10, 2010 3:37:10 PM

  11. @JeffNYC

    "I deeply mourn the loss of 95 of the 96 lives lost on that plane."

    You've found a very tasteful way to say it. ;-)

    But, frankly, we shouldn't be gloating over Kaczynski's death. It's not good for us.

    Posted by: Eugene | Apr 10, 2010 4:04:31 PM

  12. What vile creatures some of you are. If it was a plane full of queens you'd all shit yourself if straights laughed at their deaths. Grow the fuck up already!!!!

    Posted by: Scoobytx | Apr 10, 2010 4:37:47 PM

  13. Among the victims of the tragedy are those who for years worked closely our great friend of the LGBT community, female deputy, Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, and Jolanta Szymanek-Deresz and the Ombudsman, Janusz Kochanowski.

    Posted by: darius | Apr 10, 2010 4:58:19 PM

  14. All I know is that he was a very conservative catholic who had, with his twin brother, been part of a political dynasty in Poland, and had promulgated hateful policies which had been contrary to EU principles of inclusion and equality for LGBT.
    In 2005, "Following Lech Kaczyński's election as President, the European Commission issued a formal warning to Poland, saying that it could lose its European Union voting rights if the President continued to oppose LGBT rights."

    Posted by: DJ | Apr 10, 2010 5:07:39 PM

  15. Many of the comments on this post just prove that gays really are equal to straights - and I am not talking about the mature progressive compassionate decent straights.

    Posted by: Den | Apr 10, 2010 5:26:38 PM

  16. How many of you who are so outraged shed a tear for, or condemned those who celebrated the deaths of, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer?

    The Polish president was responsible for many more deaths than both of these monsters combined.

    How far does your "compassion" reach? At what point do you not feel bad when a monster dies? At what point do you not scold others who don't mourn? Castro? Idi Amin? Pol Pot? Hitler? Stalin?

    Only if you have enough compassion to feel sorry for the deaths of ALL the tyranical monsters above do you have a right to condemn those whose compassion doesn't reach to the depths of the lesser monster who was the President of Poland. Otherwise you are a hypocrite.

    I don't take joy in the man's death but I don't feel pity either. Nor am I going to be so self-righteous as to condemn those who are celebrating either.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Apr 10, 2010 5:58:22 PM

  17. tampageek

    just how was Kaczynski responsible for "many more" deaths than serial killers? What are you even talking about? Really, the man was homophobic---but a killer?

    MIght want to up those meds, dude

    Posted by: guest | Apr 10, 2010 6:17:10 PM


    I heart you.

    Posted by: Christopher | Apr 10, 2010 6:58:53 PM

  19. I'm not going to take a scolding from a pussy who's to big of a coward to have a name that identifies himself.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Apr 10, 2010 7:13:04 PM

  20. @ Guest

    Hitler never killed anyone. So is he not guilty?

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 10, 2010 7:22:05 PM

  21. Just posted a similar comment at JMG but feel it applies almost as much here at Towleroad as well so I'm posting here too/ Way too hyped to sleep anyway.

    I'm an American living and working in Warsaw for the past two years. I just returned from an all-night spontaneous memorial for the dead in Pilsudski Square with a half dozen Polish friends of mine, all of whom are gay and all of whom are devastated. The LGBT community here is not as small as you would think, but most of us know Izabela or have met her. It still hasn't sunk in that she is really gone. All I can feel is numb.

    Kaczynski was no friend of gays, but he was President of Poland. No one here celebrates his death. It's inhumane to do so, unthinkable.

    I honestly can't believe many of the comments I've read here today. They are unbelievably insensitive. I thought we were better than this. Some joker named Tank is even making Polish jokes on this thread. Imagine how it feels to be gay and Polish, to struggle for equality and look up to the U.S. because of how far we've come in this country---and you go online and read shit like this. It sickens me to think I've recommended many of my Polish friends to read this blog to get a sense of what it's like to be gay in America.

    None of you who are gloating over one death can even imagine what is going on here, the depth of feeling and suffering.

    Thank you to the writers and editors of this site for such an inclusive and detailed post of this tragedy, and especially for mentioning Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka life and work, which is not well-known outside of Poland.


    Posted by: Martin Handschuh | Apr 10, 2010 8:07:46 PM

  22. If you've read a few news reports, it seems that this man had a history of ordering pilots to land in difficult/impossible conditions (including in former Soviet Georgia, where the pilot disobeyed and didn't attempt a landing). Later, the pilot was fired or demoted.

    With a track record like that, one could surmise that Kaczynski was responsible for all 96 deaths in the plane crash, including his own.

    Posted by: Robert | Apr 10, 2010 8:10:26 PM

  23. You're absolutely right...polish jokes at a time like this are simply inappropriate and tasteless. I apologize. Furthermore, polish jokes are soooooo mind numbingly stupid. But, in their defense, what do you expect?

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 10, 2010 8:13:10 PM

  24. Sorry but while I did not like his homophobia, I still prayed for his family and the families of the rest who died. We shouldn't let the hatred of those who oppose us taint our humanity. We are no better than them if we do.

    Posted by: a. mcewen | Apr 10, 2010 9:13:26 PM

  25. I for one am not going to shed a single tear for this ass hole .. Hope he burns in the very hell he believed in .

    Posted by: MarkBoston | Apr 11, 2010 2:43:46 AM

  26. « | 1 2 3 »

Post a comment


« «Glenn Beck: Obama Will Pick a Radical 'Gay Handicapped Black Woman' Who's an Immigrant' to Fill Supreme Court Slot« «