Poles grieve over president killed in crash
(AP) - Poland's government moved swiftly Sundayto show that it was staying on course after the deaths of itspresident and dozens of political, military and religious leaders,even as tens of thousands of Poles expressed their grief over theshocking plane crash in Russia.
New acting chiefs of the military were already in place and aninterim director of the central bank was named Sunday, with workrunning as usual, said Pawel Gras, a government spokesman.
It was a rare positive note on a day wracked by grief for the 96dead and laced with reminders of Poland's dark history with itspowerful neighbor. The Saturday crash occurred in thick fog nearKatyn, the site where Josef Stalin's secret police in 1940systematically executed thousands of Polish military officers inthe western Soviet Union.
President Lech Kaczynski and those aboard the aging Soviet-builtplane had been headed there to honor the dead. A preliminaryanalysis showed the plane had been working fine, a Russianinvestigator said.
Tens of thousands of Poles softly sang the national anthem andtossed flowers at the hearse carrying the 60-year-old Kaczynski'sbody Sunday to the presidential palace after it was returned fromRussia's Smolensk airport, the site of the crash.
The coffin bearing the president's remains was met first by hisdaughter Marta, whose mother, the first lady, Maria Kaczynska, alsoperished in the crash. She knelt before it, her forehead resting onthe coffin.
She was followed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former primeminister, and the president's twin brother. He, too, knelt andpressed his head against the flag-draped coffin before risingslowly and crossing himself.
"He taught Poles how to respect our traditions, how to fightfor our dignity, and he made he made his sacrifice there at thattragic place," said mourner Boguslaw Staron, 70. Church bells pealed at noon and emergency sirens shrieked fornearly a minute before fading. Hundreds bowed their heads, eyesclosed, in front of the presidential palace. Buses and trams haltedin the streets.
No date for a funeral has been set and the Polish presidentialpalace has not yet said if Kaczynski will lie in state, though itis not a Polish tradition.