The Polish court has agreed to prosecute the Smolensk flight controllers
International requests for arrest have been issued
The Warsaw District Court (SO) has issued an order to arrest Pavel Plusnin, Viktor Ryzhenko, and Nikolai Krasnokutskiy. On April 10, 2010, they directed air traffic at Smolensk-Severnyy Airport (Smolensk North Airport) and guided the Polish governmental plane with President Lech Kaczyński and the official Polish delegation on board, for landing in Smolensk, the portal wPolityce.pl has learned. According to the Polish prosecution, they deliberately caused the crash of the Polish Air Force One. The court agreed with this thesis.
The decision of the SO means that the National Prosecutor’s Office can finally prosecute the flight controllers based on the issuance of international arrest warrants. The warrant regarding Plusnin has already been sent to Interpol, the one regarding Ryzhenko will be sent in the next few days, while the one regarding Krasnokutskiy will be sent as soon as the court’s decision in his case becomes final (within the next week or so).
Thus, the court reversed the May 2022 decision of the Regional Court refusing to arrest Krasnokutskiy, upheld the arrest for Plusnin, and rejected the complaint filed by Ryzhenko’s defense counsel.
According to the District Court, there is a high probability that the flight controllers committed the acts they are accused of, i.e., the bringing about of an air traffic catastrophe, which resulted in the death of the entire 96-person delegation of the Polish state heading to the remembrance ceremony on the 70th anniversary of the Katyń Massacre of 1940.
Let us recall that the investigation into the air traffic controllers’ actions has been ongoing since the spring of 2015. At that time, the military prosecutor’s office still wanted to bring charges of unintentionally causing the tragedy against the Russians. However, after the National Prosecutor’s Office took over the proceedings, it turned out that the evidence allowed more substantial charges to be brought forth – of intentionally causing the catastrophe. The order, in this case, was issued in April 2017. This past week, it was finally agreed by the court.
According to investigators, the flight controllers from Severnyy, by allowing the TU-154M plane to descend and make a conditional landing approach, were fully aware that this could end in disaster and consented to it.
There is, of course, still a long way to go from the court decision to the arrest of Plusnin, Ryzhenko, and Krasnokutskiy. So far, the Russian authorities have not agreed to present charges against the three and have ignored Polish requests, in this case, hiding behind the excuse of such action being a ‘threat to the interests of the Russian Federation.’
When the formalities against all the controllers are completed in a few days, they will not be able to leave Russia without risking arrest. Polish prosecutors have stressed: we will be looking for these people worldwide.
For a link to the original Polish version, please see: