RUSSIA: Anti-Gay President Of Poland Dies In Plane Crash With 96 Others
Poland has declared a week of mourning after President Lech Kaczynski and his wife were killed in a plane crash in western Russia this morning. All passengers and crew died in the crash. As mayor of Warsaw, Kaczynski had repeatedly banned gay pride marches and had been quoted as saying that same-sex marriage would bring about the destruction of the human race.
Russian state television reported that the Tu-154 jet crashed about a kilometer short of the runway on its fourth attempt to land in heavy fog at the Smolensk-Severnyi military airport, shortly before 11 a.m. Moscow time. Reports of the number killed in the crash varied. Polish officials put the figure at 88, while Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations said 97 had died and Russia's Investigative Committee said the total was 132. "We still cannot fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what it means for us in the future," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Piotr Paszkowski. "Nothing like this has ever happened in Poland." "We can assume with great certainty that all persons on board have been killed." Passengers included the president and his wife as well as other top officials. SlawomirSkrzypek, president of the National Bank of Poland, was also on board. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Pszkowski said that the army chief of staff and Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer were also on board the plane. The plane "clipped the tops of the trees, crashed and broke into pieces," the governor of the Smolensk region, Sergei Antufiev, told Rossiya-24 television news network by telephone. "There were no survivors."In 2008 Kaczynski went on national Polish television to mock the same-sex wedding of two men in Canada. Unknown to him, however, one of the two men whose photos he ridiculed was internationally noted LGBT activist Brendan Fay. Kaczynski's move then backfired when Fay and his husband were brought to Poland and interviewed by national television, something local activists called the greatest visibility for LGBT rights there in many years.