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Polish President Lech Kaczynski plane crash likely caused by pilot error

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"It's very important that this investigation be seen to be transparent and impartial," says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow. "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered that it be done with full openness and cooperation with the Polish authorities, because it's very important that there be no suggestion of any coverup. Putin made it clear that if any blame should be found on the Russian side, there will be punishment."

Relations between Russia and Poland, who are traditional enemies, have improved since the tragic crash, in part because both nations have come together in grief and common purpose to find the truth, says Tatiana Parkhalina, director of the independent Center for European Security in Moscow.

"It's very important that the Polish side does not have a substantially different version of the reasons for the accident" from that of Russian investigators, she says. "The probe is still going on, so we should not jump to conclusions. But at this point it looks like this terrible catastrophe has had the effect of helping Russia and Poland to turn over a new leaf in our relations."

Pilot errors

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