Thursday, 10 June 2010

Russian servicemen admit to looting plane crash site

Four Russian servicemen have been charged with using the credit card of a deceased top Polish official.

Widow of prominent Polish historian Andrzej Przewoznik, 46, reported that money was withdrawn from her husband's account after the April 10th plane crash from a Russian cash point.

According to the preliminary report, the men spent the money that they withdrew through Sberbank cash points on food and alcohol at local cafes and bars, said a source close to the investigation.

Apparently, they’d taken a total of four credit cards, but one was “swallowed” by the ATM.

Three of the four men have previous criminal records ranging from robbery to counterfeiting money.

A source in the Investigative Committee earlier said that the total cash taken amounted to nearly $2000 (60,345 rubles) Defense Ministry spokesman Aleksei Kuznetsov said that all of the money will be returned to the Przewoznik's family.

The suspects could face up to five years imprisonment if convicted.

Przewoznik was the Secretary of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites.

On Sunday, Polish government spokesman Pawel Gras accused Russian Special Forces police unit (OMON) officers and then Interior Ministry officers of looting at the site of the crash.

Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markov said that "neither police nor OMON nor Interior Ministry officers have anything to do with this," adding that the four servicemen were drafted a year ago as part of their civic obligation.

Head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee Kirill Kabanov says the incident showcases the disintegration of the Russian army, and the Russian society as a whole, and notes that looting by the military is nothing new.

“Looting has been around for a long time. We saw this in the early 90’s and we saw it in Chechnya,” said Kabanov.

Kabanov doubts that we will see a public apology from top Russian officials - “We have no history of doing that,” he explained. Ideally, said Kabanov, the entire chain of command should resign to make amends.

“A deed like this casts a shadow on all the good that the Russians did after the plane crash, he added.

A Soviet-made TU-154 crashed near west Russia's Smolensk on April 10, killing all 96 people on board, including President Kaczynski, his wife, as well as a large delegation comprised of top Polish officials.

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