Russia blames Polish crew in president's air crash

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 12, 2011 15:24

 
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MOSCOW — Russian officials investigating the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski placed the blame squarely on the Poles on Wednesday, saying the crew was pressured to land in bad weather by an air force commander who had been drinking.

Kaczynski and 95 others, including his wife, died in April 2010 when their Tu-154 plane crashed while trying to land in Smolensk, Russia. There were no survivors.

Officials of the Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigates crashes in much of the former Soviet Union, said Wednesday that the pilots were pressured to land by Poland's air force commander, Gen. Andrzej Blasik, who was in the cockpit. They said he had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.06 percent, enough to impair reasoning.

Blasik's presence in the cockpit "had a psychological influence on the commander's decision to take an unjustified risk by continuing the descent with the overwhelming goal of landing by all means necessary," committee chairwoman Tatiana Anodina told a news conference announcing the final results of the investigation.

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