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Polish Interim President to Set Election Date Next Week (With Photos)

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Voice of America

Polish interim President Bronislaw Komorowski says the date for Poland’s presidential election will be announced next week, after the state funeral for the late head of state Lech Kaczynski.

The announcement Wednesday comes as Poland prepares for a memorial service for Mr. Kaczynski, his wife, Maria and a host of Polish dignitaries killed last week in a plane crash.

A memorial service for the 96 victims is set for Saturday, with a state funeral for the president scheduled for Sunday, April 18.  U.S. President Barack Obama and numerous European leaders are expected to attend.

Meanwhile, plans to inter Mr. Kaczynski in a crypt at a Krakow cathedral reserved for Polish heroes, poets and kings sparked a protest late Tuesday.  Hundreds of people demonstrated in the southern city to oppose the burial plans.

An editorial Wednesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper said the decision to bury Mr. Kacszynski at Wawel Cathedral alongside independence hero Jozef Pilsudski and other Polish icons was “hasty and emotional” and could divide the country.

The plane carrying the Kaczynski entourage crashed while trying to land in western Russia for a memorial service honoring 22,000 Polish military officers and others executed by the Soviets at the onset of World War Two.

Saturday’s crash near the Russian city of Smolensk also killed the chief of Poland’s armed forces, the director of the central bank and the deputy foreign minister.  Others who perished include 90 year-old Ryszard Kaczorowski, who was the last president-in-exile while Poland was under Communism, and iconic labor leader Anna Walentynowicz.

Her firing from a job as a crane operator in Gdansk in 1980 touched off the strike that led to the founding of  the trade union Solidarity and the eventual unraveling of Communism in Poland.  She was 80.

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Soldiers stand on guard next to the coffins of victims of Saturday’s Polish government Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft crash near Smolensk, during a repatriation ceremony at an airport in Warsaw April 14, 2010. Poland’s ruling party said on Wednesday that presidential elections were likely to be held on June 20 as protests grew over the choice of a burial site for late president Lech Kaczynski.

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WARSAW, POLAND – APRIL 14: Miners in formal uniforms and bearing standards stand in line to pay their last respects at the coffins of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria that were lying in state in the Presidential Palace on April 14, 2010 in Warsaw, Poland. Thousands of mourners from all over Poland stood for hours in a line that stretched at least a kilometer long to view the coffins. Kaczynski, his wife Maria and leading members of the Polish military and government were killed when the presidential plane they were traveling in crashed while attempting to land at Smolensk, Russia, on April 10. The coffins will lie in state until memorial ceremonies scheduled for this coming Saturday.

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Children pay their respects to the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Krakow April 14, 2010. Some Poles reacted with fury to plans unveiled on Tuesday by a senior cardinal to bury the late president and his wife Maria at Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, a place normally reserved for national heroes, poets and kings.

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A portrait of Poland’s late President Lech Kaczynski is seen at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow April 14, 2010. Kaczynski and his wife Maria will be buried in the cathedral crypt at Wawel Royal Castle in Poland’s southern city of Krakow on Sunday.

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Visitors tour inside St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow April 14, 2010. Poland’s late President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria will be buried in the cathedral crypt at Wawel Royal Castle in Poland’s southern city of Krakow on Sunday.

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WARSAW, POLAND – APRIL 14: Mourners wait in a snaking line to pay their last respects at the coffins of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria that were lying in state in the Presidential Palace on April 14, 2010 in Warsaw, Poland. Thousands of mourners from all over Poland stood for hours in a line that stretched at least a kilometer long to view the coffins. Kaczynski, his wife Maria and leading members of the Polish military and government were killed when the presidential plane they were traveling in crashed while attempting to land at Smolensk, Russia, on April 10. The coffins will lie in state until memorial ceremonies scheduled for this coming Saturday.

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