Pilot-in-Command at the time of the “Georgian Incident” Defends General Błasik and Captain Protasiuk
SCND: April 24, 2015
Pilot Major Grzegorz Pietruczuk, who refused to land in Tbilisi [Georgia] in August 2008, has spoken up regarding the latest developments in the Smolensk Crash investigation.
In the Polish weekly “Do Rzeczy,” Pietruczuk defends General Andrzej Błasik and Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk.
The incident, often referred to as the Georgian Incident, took place in 2008 in Ukraine during a layover at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea. The so-called Georgian Incident was developed by the media in connection with a trip to Tbilisi organized by Lech Kaczyński, who, along with other Central European heads of state, flew to Georgia to defend it against the Russian invasion.
Pietruczuk has not spoken publicly about this matter since 2011. The release of new readings of the stenographs from the Tupolev in which the President of Poland and his entourage lost their lives in 2010 at Smolensk, however, brought with it new accusations leveled against General Błasik. He is being held responsible for pressure put on the pilots. The case of the Georgian Incident, as well as these new attacks on General Błasik, have therefore become very relevant for emerging questions about the cause of the Smolensk Catastrophe. In this situation, the pilot who refused to land in Tbilisi, Major Pietruczuk, has decided to speak out on behalf of his commanding officer and colleagues, who died in the Smolensk Catastrophe. He is, however, far from being the only one.
Pietruczuk declares that General Błasik was a professional through and through. - I have known him since the first half of the 1990s. I have never harbored the slightest doubt that he was not only a very good pilot, but also a leader exceptionally dedicated to safety and to rules and regulations. The sorts of behaviors ascribed to him by certain persons quite simply never took place.
Related Story: Lech Kaczynski Documentary
The documentary “The President” takes one on a personal journey giving an insider view of 20th and current 21st century hopes, betrayals, traumas, and shattered dreams of a country called Poland, in the heart of Europe. The story, as told through the words of those who witnessed his life firsthand, follows the life of Lech Kaczynski on his journey as a young, Solidarity leader, through his rise to the Presidency, then to his tragic death in Smolensk, Russia. This is an almost unbelievable real-life story of, intrigue, backroom dealings, political chess-games, betrayal, and a mysterious, implausible death onboard a Presidential plane, flying to Smolensk to commemorate a genocide of 70 years earlier.
But this is not the end of his legacy and the story is about more than that…it is a conviction and indictment of all those who aided and embedded the purveyors of the aberration of democracy who had and still have root in his country. He, the voice of the people, sought for justice- time and time again for the people of Poland fighting valiantly against communism. His efforts were constantly thwarted by those who wished this other regime to embalm Poland. His fearlessness and magnetic voice echoed through Europe and neighboring Baltic Countries, striking fear in the mind of those wishing to invade and encumber those lands without being stood up to. The red “Giant” had met “David” with a slingshot.
He assures us that, after the Georgian Incident, he was not met with any unprofessional castigation from General Błasik. - It goes without saying that I had to submit clarifications after this incident, both to General Błasik and to Minister of Defense Bogdan Klich. After all, I had refused the president. Nevertheless, after presenting my evidence and explaining my motivations, including the regulations to which I was adhering, General Błasik recognized that I had acted correctly and properly and that he had no qualms with me. I did not encounter any formal or informal consequences.
He also states that Błasik was far from an overbearing character. - I flew with him many times, including when he was Chief of the Air Force. As soon as he entered the cabin, he “forgot” that he was the head of the entire air force—he became an impersonal crew member carrying out the captain’s orders. He had immense experience as a pilot and knew that the cockpit’s hierarchy must be preserved for the duration of the flight - precisely for the sake of the flight’s safety. He would never have allowed himself to go against procedures or regulations.
Major Pietruczuk also speaks in defense of Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk, commander of the Tupolev, who died over Smolensk. - The notion that he did not have certifications to be the pilot in command is based on very weak premises. This was an exceptional pilot with immense experience. To make him into a sort of suicide like Andreas Lubitz is shocking and offensive. This was a person who cared very much for safety.
After RMF’s publication of new readings of the stenographs, which were to constitute indisputable proof of General Błasik’s presence in the pilot’s cabin, numerous doubts appeared regarding their fairness and the impartiality of the experts who prepared them. Even the Gazeta Wyborcza, which for years has supported the Miller Commission’s version, published an interview with Peter French, President of the International Association of Forensic Acoustics and Phonetics. French criticized the claim of the prosecution’s experts, that deriving a digital copy from the analog recording necessarily improved the audio quality. - The notion that digitization made spoken dialogue more easily discernible are, in my opinion, sucked from a thumb. This runs contrary to the basic assumptions of acoustics. - said Professor French
It remains unclear why and at whose request the prosecution requested this new expertise. In fact, earlier in the investigation, at the request of this same prosecution, the matter of forensic acoustics was handed over to the most renowned institution of its kind in Poland - the Jan Sehn Institute of Forensic Analysis in Kraków. The researchers of the institute did not conclude that General Błaski’s voice could be reasonably discerned in the pilot’s cabin. In fact, they called into doubt the previous opinion [that it could be heard], which was derived from hearings in Moscow. Using special devices, the Sehn Institute determined that the recorded voice ascribed to General Błasik was, in fact, the voice of the Second Pilot Robert Grzywna.
Related Story: Smolensk Crash Disinformation
Consider the record to date of investigatory procedures and government actions that incline one to suspicion:
Such capricious actions and obscured procedures, running contrary to both the scientific rigor and general Western trend towards transparency naturally invites wariness as to the methods and conclusions of the investigation. No detached observer, cognizant of the influence of loyalty to faction and party in overwhelming loyalty to the people and to the truth, would readily accept such results given the morass of Polish and Russian politics and diplomacy. Among the issues are the degree to which present sitting politicians may have cooperated with the SB (Polish Communist Secret Police), WSI, and KGB, and Polish dependence on Russian Oil. There is much to hide and much to lose through non-acquiescence.
Unfortunately, this information proves utterly pointless. In essence, this crucial detail undermined the main claims of both reports - Tatiana Anodina’s Russian report, and the Miller Commission’s Polish report. While the Russian report quite simply placed all of the blame for the tragedy on General Błasik, the Polish report merely concluded that “the presence of the Commander of the Air Force added an element of pressure on the crew.”
Nevertheless, the Sehn Institute’s conclusion that the second recorded voice belonged to the second pilot, had another meaning. It upended the notion that the pilots weren’t aware of the airplane’s altitude. Moreover, theses that ascribed this voice to Błasik concluded that he had been telling the crew the correct altitude, but that they couldn’t hear him because he wasn’t wearing the audio headset. Ascribing this voice to Grzywny, who was a member of the flight crew, completely disproved these allegations.
Still, there is one more way in which these newly released stenographs are dubious. For one thing, it’s hard to speak of impartiality among the researchers called up to create yet another version of the stenographs. The main author of the forensic analysis is the musicologist Andrzej Artymowicz. He is the brother of Paweł Artymowicz, who, in turn, is the government-recommend advisor to Maciej Lasek’s team formed for purposes to explain to the public the official version of events and a proponent of the Miller Commission’s report.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that the person who was supposed to have recognized General Błasik’s voice is none other than Robert Latkowski, who co-authored a book titled “The Last Flight” [Ostatni Lot]. Along with Jan Osiecki he propagated the thesis which placed all of the blame for the catastrophe onto the Polish pilots. Up until 1999, Latkowski was the leader of a special regiment in the Polish military, but he didn’t actually know Błasik personally at all. Ewa Błasik, the general’s widow, told Do Rzeczy: I don’t know how he could have possibly recognized my husband’s voice on the tapes, and four years after the catastrophe! He wasn’t in any way an acquaintance of Andrzej [Błasik]. If they ever met, it was only at some official occasions, like the Celebration of the Polish Air Force. She also pointed out that nobody from the military prosecution turned to her to ask for help in identifying her husband’s voice, nor did they contact anyone else who knew the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force personally. We only find out about these decisions from media leaks, despite the fact that we’ve submitted numerous requests to be notified about everything before the information is given to the press - says the general’s widow, Ewa Błasik.
From the Editor's Desk: A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption.
In 2007, a group of law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear.
From the Editor's Desk: A chilling and unflinching portrait of one of the most fearsome figures in world politics.
In 1999, the “Family” surrounding Boris Yeltsin went looking for a successor to the ailing and increasingly unpopular president. Vladimir Putin, with very little governmental or administrative experience - he’d been deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and briefly, director of the secret police - nevertheless seemed the perfect choice: a “faceless” creature whom Yeltsin and his cronies could mold in their own image. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see in him the progressive leader of their dreams - even as Putin, with ruthless efficiency, dismantled the country’s media, wrested control and wealth from the business class, and destroyed the fragile mechanisms of democracy.
From the Editor's Desk: "Blowing Up Russia" contains the allegations of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko against his former spymasters in Moscow which led to his being murdered in London in November 2006. In the book he and historian Yuri Felshtinsky detail how since 1999 the Russian secret service has been hatching a plot to return to the terror that was the hallmark of the KGB.
Vividly written and based on Litvinenko's 20 years of insider knowledge of Russian spy campaigns, Blowing Up Russia describes how the successor of the KGB fabricated terrorist attacks and launched a war. Writing about Litvinenko, the surviving co-author recounts how the banning of the book in Russia led to three earlier deaths.
Already during the first night of the crash, the Russians were removing the most important pieces of evidence from the crash site, that is, the remains of the Polish President’s Tupolev, TU-154M. Parts of the aircraft were transported away without any prior planning, and some of them were purposefully destroyed. Read more here
"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.
World-renowned forensic pathologist goes on the record: "I have been doing autopsies for 50 years, and I've investigated more than fifteen, twenty airplane crashes […] I've been in countries all over the world where families think that the government is hiding something. Whether it is Zimbabwe or Israel, or Philippines, the government may not like an outside person checking to make sure they got it right. [But,] they never interfered with that. The family, the next of kin, always has the right to do what the wishes of the family are. In the 21st century, the body of the dead person no longer belongs to the state. It belongs to the family. So, it is unusual - something that I have never experienced before - where the government [of Poland] has not permitted the famil[ies]" to conduct independent forensic examinations of their loved ones' remains [...] I've never heard of a body coming back to a country and the family being unable to open up a casket. I've never heard of the family not being able to get an autopsy… Read more here
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