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Breaking the news from Krakow, Poland 

World Leaders Did Not Come to Krakow for President Kaczynski’s Funeral. 

U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Prince Charles of the UK are just four VIPs among many heads of state and government who failed to turn up at President Kaczynski’s funeral in Krakow on Sunday, April 18th. They cited the cloud of volcanic ash that halted air traffic in Europe, including Poland, as the reason. 

 

President Kaczynski and his wife died in the presidential plane crash near Russia’s city of Smolensk on April 10th, 2010 when all passengers and the crew were killed – 96 in total including many of Poland’s political and military elite. The late presidential couple have been entombed in a hallway of the crypt of the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow where Marshal Jozef Pilsudski has been laid to rest since 1936. 

The decision to bury President Kaczynski and his spouse in one of the Wawel crypts resulted in a firestorm of controversy in Poland because the place is considered a national mausoleum meant for the burial of kings and the nation’s greatest war heroes only. Besides the Polish royalty and Marshal Pilsudski just three other famous Polish military leaders have been interred here – Prince Jozef Poniatowski in 1817, Tadeusz Kosciuszko in 1818, and General Wladyslaw Sikorski in 1993. Plus the separate "Bards' Crypt" contains tombs of two 19th-century genius poets Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Slowacki buried in 1890 and 1927 respectively. 

The prospect of President Kaczynski’s funeral at the Wawel Cathedral perplexed the residents of Krakow in the first place. Hundreds of them staged street rallies in front of the Archbishop Palace at Franciszkanska street to protest the decision of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. 

In 1873 the royal vaults of the Wawel Cathedral were connected to make them open to the public and now visitors may see the crypts every day including the mausoleum of Marshal Pilsudski at the end of the tour. 

Program of the state funeral in Krakow on April 18th, 2010. 

Foreign delegations with the heads of state and government are scheduled to arrive at the Krakow airport between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m.  

9 a.m. A plane with the coffins of President Lech Kaczynski and his wife lands at the Balice airport. 

9:30 a.m. Caskets with the bodies of Pesident Kaczynski and Maria Kaczynska are brought from St. Norbert's Convent to the basilica of the Virgin Mary in procession via streets Kosciuszki, Zwierzyniecka, and Grodzka. 

10 a.m. The coffins arrive to St. Mary's basilica at Rynek Glowny square. 

2 p.m. Requiem Mass starts in the basilica of the Virgin Mary at Rynek Glowny central square. 

About 4 p.m. Funeral procession of the late President's family and their personal guests leaves for the Wawel Cathedral, the rest of mourners including VIPs stay in the basilica to be entertained by the Berlin Philharmonics. 

Before 5 p.m. Mourners from the basilica of the Virgin Mary are bussed to the Wawel Cathedral. 

5 p.m. Funeral ceremony continues in the Krakow cathedral. Next the coffins are taken to the crypt accompanied by the family of President Kaczynski and his wife.

About 6 p.m. End of the funeral ceremony.      

The lineup of foreign leaders who managed to attend President Kaczynski’s funeral in Krakow.

Nations of the world

Germany: President Horst Kohler 

Czech Republic: President Vaclav Klaus

Kosovo: President Fatmir Sedjiu

Lithuania: President Dalia Grybauskaite

Moldavia: acting President Mihai Ghimpu

Russia: President Dmitry Medvedev

Slovakia: President Ivan Gaszparovicz

Ukraine: President Viktor Yanukovych, Mykola Azarov, and Volodymyr Lytvyn

Azerbaijan: Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade

Armenia: Howik Abrahamia, Speaker of Parliament

Belarus: Boris Batura, Speaker of Parliament 

Iraq: Minister of Industry Fawzi Fransa Toma 

 

International Organizations

European Parliament: Chairman Jerzy Buzek   

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