November 10, 2010 / 2:40 PM / 8 years ago

Poland's Kaczynski snubs unveiling of crash memorial

Jaroslaw Kaczynski (C) opposition leader of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) show victory signs after laying a wreath in front of the Presidential palace in Warsaw, November 10, 2010, to commemorate his brother the late president Lech Kaczynski and other victims who died in a tragic plane crash early this year. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s opposition leader snubbed the unveiling of a memorial to twin brother President Lech Kaczynski on Wednesday, highlighting continued national acrimony over his death in a plane crash in Russia 7 months ago.

The memorial in Warsaw’s historic Powazki cemetery consists of a large block of white stone broken in two to evoke the wings of the ill-fated plane, which crashed in fog near Smolensk killing 96, among them many top military and political figures.

Instead of joining President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and other officials and families of the crash victims at the cemetery, Kaczynski laid flowers and prayed near the presidential palace in central Warsaw.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister known for his combative style, has accused Tusk’s government and Moscow of effectively engineering the April crash and refuses to have contact with either Tusk or President Komorowski.

On Tuesday, Kaczynski resigned from Poland’s National Security Council, an advisory body to Komorowski, saying he was “alarmed” by the foreign policy followed by the president and government. He accuses them of being too pro-Russian.

He and his supporters say Warsaw should have insisted on an international investigation into the crash and believe Moscow has covered up crucial evidence of its causes during its probe.

“People in Poland want to know what exactly happened in Smolensk, so this (meeting monthly outside the presidential palace) is a kind of protest,” said Janusz Lenartowicz, a sociologist who supports Kaczynski and his party.

An opinion poll published on Wednesday showed Tusk’s ruling pro-business Civic Platform party retaining a strong lead over PiS and other rivals before municipal elections set for Nov. 21 and Dec. 5.

(Reporting by Sam Harcourt and Ewa Rejzler, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Gareth Jones and Ralph Boulton)

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