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Poles mark plane crash anniversary

Church bells have rung out across Poland to mark the exact minute one year ago that President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others were killed in a plane crash in Russia.

Poles also filled churches and cemeteries and a large crowd gathered in front of the presidential palace, where Kaczynski and his wife Maria lived until their deaths in the crash near Smolensk, Russia, on April 10, 2010.

The crowd fell still at 8:41 am local time and sirens wailed in central Warsaw while church bells pealed elsewhere.

Earlier, the loved ones of many victims gathered for a private Mass at Warsaw's airport, the scene of some of last year's most painful scenes, as 96 flag-draped coffins returned there over several days last year.

At the time, the country experienced a short period of national unity amid the shock of losing the president, first lady and many ranking military and civilian leaders.

The disaster, however, quickly deepened political and social divisions in the country, and in a sign of that, separate commemorative events were held.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, President Bronislaw Komorowski and other politicians placed candles at a memorial plaque to the victims in a Warsaw military church. But Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw, marked the anniversary separately, placing a large wreath in front of the presidential palace.

Mr Kaczynski and many of the others killed belonged to the nationalist conservative party Law and Justice, which Jaroslaw Kaczynski heads.

That camp now blames Tusk's government for selling out Poland's interests by allowing Russia to lead the main investigation into the crash.

Earlier this year the Russian investigators concluded that Poland bore full responsibility for the crash, sparking outrage in Poland.

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From Belfast Telegraph