Russian leaders express condolences over tragic death of Polish president

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent his condolences to acting President, Parliament speaker Bronislaw Komorowski on the tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash on Saturday.

"I, like all Russian citizens, have accepted with deep and sincere shock the news of the tragic death of the Republic of Poland's President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and the members of the large Polish delegation near the city of Smolensk, who were on their way for commemorations in Katyn," the Kremlin's press service quoted Medvedev as saying in his message to the acting Polish president.

In line with the president's death, Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski has become the acting president in Poland. Komorowski has called an emergency government meeting in Warsaw and is on his way to the Polish capital from Gdansk. It is expected that the acting president will call for presidential elections to be held within 14 days in line with the death of Kaczynski.

Medvedev also added in his statement to Komorowski that a complete investigation into the cause of the plane crash would be made in full cooperation with Polish authorities.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has also sent his condolences to his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, in regard to the death of Poland's president, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said.

"Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Donald Tusk and expressed his condolences to him personally and the entire Polish nation in regard to the tragic airplane crash outside Smolensk," Peskov said.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and up to 131 others traveling with him to commemorate the mass killing of Polish officers during World War Two died on Saturday when his plane crashed on landing in western Russia.

"On Saturday, President Kaczynski's Tu-154 airplane crashed when landing near the town of Pechorsk, Smolensk region, in heavy fog," Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General's Investigations Committee said. "There were 132 people on board the plane, including the president and his spouse."

In a conflicting report, a spokesperson for Russian Emergencies Ministry said there were 96 people on board.

"According to the latest information, there were 96 people on board including 88 [from the] official delegation," the Emergencies Ministry spokesperson said.

Both sources said there were no survivors.

Source: AFP

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