Russian leaders express grief over Polish tragedy

Medvedev declared a state mourning on Monday as a mark of respect for late President Lech Kaczynski, who was on his way to Russia, along with a Presidential delegation to attend the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which hundreds of Polish officers were killed by Joseph Stalin's secret police.

"I and all the citizens of Russia are shocked by the horrible tragedy - death of President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynski, his spouse, all the polish citizens who were onboard the crashed aircraft," Medvedev said in his televised message to the people of Poland.

Polish President and his wife were among the 97 people onboard the presidential Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-154 jet, which crashed in dense fog this morning.
"On behalf of the Russian people I express deepest, most sincere condolences to the Polish people, feelings of sympathy and support to the bereaved families. All the Russians share grief and mourn with you," Medvedev said.

He promised that all circumstances of the tragedy would be probed in the "most thorough manner" in closest interaction with the Polish side.
"I have given extensive instructions to the law enforcement agencies," Medvedev assured the Polish people.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry meanwhile released a list of the names of all the people who were killed in this morning's crash of the presidential aircraft near Smolensk.
There were 88 people on the official list including the President and nine members of the crew, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu told Rossiya 24 TV.

She said the rescuers are collecting the bodies strewn over a large area on the on the crash site.Meanwhile, Prime Ministers of Russia and Poland have left Smolensk to personally supervise the probe.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was earlier today appointed head of high-level probe into the crash of Polish presidential liner, had an emergency meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev at his country retreat Gorki near Moscow.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Putin said at a meeting of the Russian cabinet."A tragedy has taken place, a very serious tragedy. The president of Poland has died, along with his wife and a significant number of Polish citizens who were flying to Smolensk region," Putin was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.Before the meeting the two leaders visited Medvedev's private chapel to pray for the polish plane crash victims.
Russian TV channels showed Medvedev and Putin lighting candles in the chapel to mark the memory of the President.

Putin said a special crisis management centre has been set up in Moscow, where the dead bodies would be brought for identification.He said the Foreign Ministry has been ordered to promptly issue visas to the relatives wishing to come to Russia.

According to the Kremlin, Medvedev also called up Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and assured Moscow's full cooperation with Warsaw in the probe.Prime Minister Putin has also sent his condolences to his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk."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.
Speaker of Russian State Duma Boris Gryzlov also sent condolence message to his Polish counterpart Komorowski.

Putin and Tusk agreed that their transport and disaster management ministers will issue a joint statement on the probe.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is visiting Kiev, in a televised statement, said that Russian agencies probing the crash of the Presidential Tu-154 airliner will fully cooperate with the relevant Polish agencies and the Russian Embassy in Warsaw has been instructed to issue fast track visas to all the Polish experts and officials involved in the probe.

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