Thursday, January 13, 2011

'Air force boss was not drunk' - Blasik's widow

The widow of Polish airforce chief Andrzej Blasik has hit back at claims that her husband were drunkenly pressuring the pilot to make a risky landing at Smolensk.

Russia’s report into the fatal crash which killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski along with Blasik and dozens of other senior officials said the top airman’s presence in the cockpit pushed the pilot into the fateful decision to land at the fog-bound airfield.

And it said Blasik was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

A man of honour

But Blasik’s widow Ewa insisted that the report, published yesterday by the MAK investigative committee, could not be accurate.

“There is no evidence of alcohol in my husband’s blood, nor that he somehow put pressure on the pilots,” she told Poland’s parliament.

“My husband was a man of honour and the Polish government must protect its soldiers, especially when they can not do this themselves.”

Because of the importance of the state visit to Russia, which was intended to commemorate the massacre of Polish officers at Katyn in 1940, Mrs Blasik added that her husband would not have drunk alcohol during the journey.

Rival report

Polish reaction to Russia’s findings has been cautiously critical, with many commentators concerned that Moscow has put all the blame on to the Polish pilots and not offered any criticisms of Russian air traffic controllers, RIA Novosti reported.

And Warsaw expects to release its own findings later this month, according to interior minister Jerzy Miller.

On Polish channel TVN24 Miller acknowledged that Smolensk air traffic controllers had warned the crew not to attempt a landing at the airfield.

But he added that final conclusions would not be available until the plane’s black boxes had been analysed.

“We would like to complete it as soon as possible, but haste is not a good adviser,” he said.

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