In 2010, Poland experienced one of the most significant governmental disruptions in its history. Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and dozens of Polish leaders perished in a plane crash outside of Smolensk, Russia in 2010. Among those who died include the former President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, the chief of the Polish General Staff, various senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish government officials, and 18 members of the Polish Parliament. A loss of such magnitude was devastating for Poland. Russia’s refusal to return the wreckage profoundly damaged relations between the two countries.
Furthermore, the crash proved provocative to Polish historical memory given that the group was traveling to Russia in commemoration of the Katyn Massacre. In 1940, the Russian secret police executed 22,000 members of the Polish army and police under Russian custody. This fact was denied by the Russians for 50 years until Boris Yeltsin released documents in 1990, proving Stalin’s involvement.
The circumstances of the crash became increasingly contentious over time; not only eroding the relationship between the two countries but within domestic Polish politics. Uncommon Union worked to help communicate compliance with international standards of information sharing and encourage cooperation between groups.