The Russian conclusion that the pilot was under pressure to “to continue descent in the conditions of unjustified risk with a dominating aim of landing at any means” 50 is supported by the following statement: “At a distance of 1200 – 600 m from the point of first impact during the actual descent with the vertical speed of about 8 m/sec, the CVR recorded three reports within 8 seconds about the height of 100 m, equal to the established minimum descent altitude.
[ . . . ] The PIC’s [Pilot in Command] decision to go around did not follow.” 51
However, the Polish reading of the CVR revealed that upon passing an altitude of 100 meters the PIC ordered the 'go around.' The co-pilot confirmed this command. 52 Thus, contrary to the Russian statements and conclusions, the decision to 'go around' was made at the right time because the Pilot-in-Command ordered aborting the landing at an altitude of 100 meters, as required by standard airport landing minimum. 53
51 IAC Final Report, English translation, Article 3.1.59.
52 The Polish Response in English, p. 142. The transcript of the cockpit recording with the command ‘go around' was published in August 2011. See: http://bit.ly/1h3AEGP
53 Polish Response in English, p. 139.
"Russian Image Management"
The trip to Smolensk was expected to highlight Russia finally admitting culpability in the massacre, after long having blamed it on the Germans, an atrocity they had tried to conceal for over 70 years.
As for the reception committee, it had different ideas. Putin wasn’t looking forward to such an occasion. Into this poisonous reception brew was President Kaczynski’s well-known public criticism of Moscow and Putin, a habit that has ended the lives of others within Russia – and abroad. A few discouraging Russian requirements – that Kaczynski could not attend in any official capacity – did not halt the Poles. Kaczynski would go anyway on non-official, “personal” business. To Russians, such a distinction would be meaningless, not lessening the possible international excoriation of such an event. A problem ripe for a modern, Russian solution: a tragic, ‘natural’ accident.
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