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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • NEWS

  • 12 October 2018

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called on the Russian Federation to return the Tu-154 government aircraft wreckage to Polish authorities without further delay, which it withholds in breach of international law. The handover should take place after consultation with Polish experts and in a manner which will prevent any further deterioration of evidence.

    In its resolution, adopted unanimously on 12 October 2018, the PACE urged law enforcement authorities of the two states to fully cooperate in establishing possible criminal liability, including to swiftly make any evidence available on request of the other state.


    The resolution states that the wreckage should be returned in close cooperation with Polish experts, and in a manner that would prevent further deterioration of evidence in the investigation. Russia was also urged to secure the wreckage until its return in line with arrangements made with Polish experts. According to the resolution, the continued withholding of the Tu-154M wreckage on the territory of Russian Federation has no legal grounds and cannot be rationally or practically justified.


    According to the resolution, Russia should refrain from any further activities that could be seen as desecrating the crash site, which carries powerful emotional significance for many Poles. The resolution recalls that the most senior figures of the Polish State died in the crash near Smolensk while on their way to Katyn, where they were to attend a ceremony marking the anniversary of the massacre of Polish patriots by Stalin’s secret police.


    In its statement, the Parliamentary Assembly rejected Russia’s argument that the return of the wreckage is not possible because it needs to remain in the Russian Federation’s territory until the local competent organs have completed the investigation into the crash. The ongoing criminal proceedings conducted by the Russian authorities cannot justify the withholding of the wreckage belonging to the Republic of Poland. The very fact of withholding the wreckage for such a long time has been considered an abuse.


    The Parliamentary Assembly also called on Poland and Russia to fully co-operate in establishing any possible criminal responsibilities related to the crash, including by swiftly making any evidence available on the request of the other state. Russia and Poland were urged to engage in mediation to effectively monitor the implementation of the resolution. Moreover, the Assembly expects to receive a report on the implementation of the resolution within 12 months.


    During the debate at the PACE, all members stressed the need to return the aircraft wreckage without further delay, including the black boxes and other evidentiary material from the crash site. MP A. Mularczyk noted that “withholding the wreckage is a clear breach of international law.” French MP A. Gattolin said that “withholding the wreckage is an abuse of rights and an open wound on the Polish society. The crash cannot be exploited for political purposes.” V. Ariev from Ukraine said that “the PACE debate should echo in other international forums.”


    The PACE resolution sends a clear message to the Russian side that the international community does not approve of the unlawful and protracted withholding of the Polish property. We hope that it will encourage the Russian side to take real action to immediately return the wreckage of the Polish aircraft.

     


    MFA Press Office

     

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