Now having - through my marriage to a Polish girl - a certain affinity with this great country and its citizens, I feel that it is only right to offer, for what it's worth, my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased.
Apart from the president and his wife, Lech and Maria Kaczynski, the dead include:
* Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish president in exile (during World War II, an anti-Communist government-in-exile had been set up in London. It was still there right before the Wall came down, and Mr. Kaczorowski held the post in 1989-90).
* Aleksander Szczyglo, the head of the National Security Office and a former Secdef
* Pawel Wypych and Mariusz Handzlik, presidential aides
* Jerzy Szmajdzinski, deputy parliament speaker and also a former Secdef
* Andrzej Kremer, the Deputy Foreign Minister
* General Franciszek Gagor, Army Chief of staff
* Andrzej Przewoznik, the minister in charge of WWII memorials
* Slawomir Skrzypek, the Chairman of Poland's National Bank
* Janusz Kurtyka, Chairman of the National Remembrance Institute, an institution investigating communist-era crimes
* Przemyslaw Gosiewski, Zbigniew Wassermann and Grzegorz Dolniak, MP's
Apart from the terrible human tragedy, this disaster is a serious blow for the European Right, since Mr. Kaczynski was a member of the Polish rightwing party PiS (Law and Justice). His twin brother, Jaroslav Kaczynski, a former PM, is actually still PiS Chairman. With several high-ranking PiS personages suddenly dead, it is no exxaggeration to state that PiS is in disarray. And the repercussions will be felt in the European Parliament as well, where PiS was an important member of the EU Group European Conservatives and Reformists. As for economic issues, PiS is a "traditional" Euro rightwing party: not wanting to touch too much on the welfare state, not entirely pro free market, and not really opposed to state intervention if it is deemed "necessary". The important thing in this regard is of course that Europe's rightwing parties, unlike its socialist parties, do not claim that they can "make" jobs, in short, they don't draft far-reaching "plans" to "help" the economy. PiS's importance lies rather in the fact that it is ardently pro-US (participant in both Iraq and Afghanistan), very much pro the US's missile screen in Eastern Europe (a moot point now of course given the current WH occupant), pro a strong defence apparatus, and of course unashamedly Christian and strongly opposed to the utterly insane gay marriage and gay adoption legislation promoted in Europes "enlightened" member states. Mr. Kaczynski himself, while still mayor of Warsaw, once forbade a gay pride march in Poland's capital.
In a tragic twist of fate, the delegation led by Mr. Kaczynski was on its way to a commemmoration of the horrible murder seventy years ago in Katyn, back then in the Soviet Union, of thousands of Polish Army officers by NKVD executioners.
On orders of Lavrenty Beria, some 22,000 Polish officers were killed during fall 1939 and throughout the subsequent winter and spring, an appalling tragedy approved by the entire Politburo including, of course, Stalin. April 10, 2010, will now be another date connected to that fateful name.