(Reuters) - Polish President Lech Kaczynski, 60, was killed when his plane crashed on its approach to a Russian airport on Saturday, a Polish government official at the airport told Reuters. Here are some facts about the president.
* POLITICAL ROLE:
-- In Poland’s first free presidential elections in 1990, twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski were the driving force behind Solidarity hero Lech Walesa’s victory over another leading dissident, Tadeusz Mazowiecki.
-- Lech Kaczynski was head of the national security office under Walesa. He fell out with him after resisting calls for Poland to abandon “shock therapy” economic reform. Kaczynski later became justice minister in the government of Jerzy Buzek.
-- Kaczynski was elected president in 2005. The win followed a general election victory by the Law and Justice party led by his identical twin Jaroslaw, and made the Kaczynski duo the undisputed first family in the new European Union member state.
-- Lech Kaczynski named his brother prime minister in July 2006.
-- In 2007, Donald Tusk became prime minister after leading his centrist Civic Platform to victory in parliamentary elections. Tusk pursued pro-market economic policies and repaired relations with Germany and Russia, badly strained under the previous administration of the president’s brother.
-- Kaczynski was a critic of the economically liberal government and often vetoed its bills, including 2008 plans to encourage hospitals to operate on a commercial basis -- a plan the president said amounted to privatization. He vetoed a 2009 bill that aimed to shake up public media.
-- President Kaczynski criticized the government in January 2010 for prolonging gas negotiations with Moscow and deepening Poland’s already heavy reliance on Russian gas.
* LIFE DETAILS:
-- Lech Kaczynski was born in June 1949 and studied at the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Warsaw.
-- He and his brother first came to prominence as freckle-faced child stars in the Polish movie hit “The Two Who Stole the Moon” in 1962, playing a town’s troublemakers.
-- Lech Kaczynski was interned under martial law from December 1981-October 1982 for his involvement in the Solidarity movement. After the fall of communism the twins became power brokers on the right of a fragmented political scene.
-- In office, the twins campaigned to expose those who had collaborated with the communists and promised a “moral revolution” against corruption.
-- Lech Kaczynski’s appeal was based on his image as an incorruptible politician who, unlike some post-communist leaders, never personally benefited from politics.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit
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