All hell broke loose on Tuesday after a respected daily, Rzeczpospolita, reported that Polish investigators had found traces of explosive materials on the wreckage of the TU-154 plane which crashed in 2010, killing President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others.
For those who have always believed that the late president was murdered on the orders of the Kremlin, the fact that a mainstream newspaper now seemed to be echoing their sentiments, must have come as no small satisfaction.
Over a quarter (26 percent) of Poles believe the Smolensk catastrophe was in fact an assassination, according to a CBOS poll released this week. A further 12 percent believe “it's difficult to say” if it was an assassination or not.
This means almost 40 percent of Poles either already believe or could be persuaded to believe that Vladimir Putin and his henchmen ordered their president killed.
After the news broke, the Military Prosecutor's Office, which is in charge of the Smolensk investigations, said it would hold a press conference later in the day to address Rzeczpospolita's claims.
Shooting from the hip
But Jarosław Kaczyński, twin brother of the late president, and leader of opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), wasn't able to wait that long. He promptly called a press conference of his own where he talked about the “murder of 96 people” and the fact that Prime Minister Donald Tusk has “lost the moral authority to rule.”
The PiS leader went as far as to imply that the PM was actively “fudging the investigation” into the Smolensk catastrophe. For good measure, the implication was left in the air that Mr Tusk might have even been involved in the death of Jarosław Kaczyński's brother.
Then came the Military Prosecutor's press conference, during which he basically denied the newspaper reports although, in all fairness, said it could not be “ruled out” that tests would indeed show that explosives traces were present in the materials Polish investigators had recovered. It was however, categorically stated that up till now “no traces” of such materials have been found.
'One big lie'
Mr Kaczyński described these statements as “one big lie” and said he believes the Rzeczpospolita reports. But by now the newspaper itself had started to backtrack from its statements saying it should not have been so “categorical” in its claims.
And then finally, the PM spoke.
As usual in such situations, Donald Tusk played the role of the calm but decided statesman, saying quietly that it was “unacceptable for the leader of the opposition to be levying such charges, charges that could devastate the Polish state, based on an inaccurate newspaper report.”
Bang! Enemy down.
After that Mr Kaczyński and his party could only look silly.
But PiS seems to take pride in its silliness and hours later, Adam Hofman, party spokesman, was saying publicly that PiS has “its own sources who confirm the Rzeczpospolita reports.” The original reports that is, not the retraction the newspaper made. So that means PiS now believes a newspaper report that the newspaper itself is disavowing.
When it emerged a couple of weeks ago that Mr Kaczyński's party had overtaken the ruling Civic Platform (PO) in the polls, a pro-PiS political commentator wrote on Twitter, paraphrasing Dr. House: “Ok, now just tell me how you are going to f**k this up.”
For the past month, PiS has been trying to shed its image of a rabble-rousing, radical party that is only interested in Smolensk and not in dull, earthly matters such as unemployment or the economy.
As polls showed, the party had achieved some success in this endeavor.
That was a good thing for Poland because the ruling party needs strong competition snapping at its heels so it stays sharp. However, once again Jarosław Kaczyński has proved that he has a short fuse. And that's not the kind of person voters tend to trust with power. Jarosław Kaczyński has managed to f**k it up again.