UN tributes continue after Polish leader and other senior officials are killed

President Lech Kaczynski of Poland

12 April 2010 – The General Assembly President and the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added their voices to UN tributes after the Polish President and many senior Government and military figures in his country were killed in a plane crash.

Lech Kaczynski, who had served as President since 2005, died alongside his wife Maria and 94 others when their plane crashed on Saturday morning as it approached an airport in the Russian city of Smolensk.

The heads of Poland’s air force, navy and land forces, the chairman of the country’s central bank and many leading parliamentarians, historians and civil servants are also among the dead. The Polish delegation had been travelling to Russia to attend a memorial event for the notorious massacre at Katyn of thousands of Poles by Soviet forces during World War II.

Ali Treki, the President of the General Assembly, issued a statement on Saturday in which he sent “his prayers and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members, people and Government of Poland on this national tragedy.”

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, also voiced her condolences to the Polish people and to the families of all those who died.

“The death of President Kaczynski, the First Lady, and Poland’s political, military and cultural leaders is a catastrophic loss,” she said yesterday. “That the President and his party were on their way to a ceremony marking the reconciliation between Poland and Russia makes this loss all the more acute.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also paid tribute, releasing a statement through his spokesperson on Saturday in which he expressed shock and sadness.

“The Secretary-General said President Kaczynski had served his country and people with distinction and conviction, and was deservedly respected internationally,” according to the statement.

The UN flag is at half-staff today as a mark of respect for the deaths of Mr. Kaczynski and his fellow passengers.


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Ban pays tribute after Polish leader and dozens of others are killed in plane crash

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