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Russian Soldiers Charged With Theft From Polish Crash

Soldiers patrol at the site of the crash of the Polish government's plane near Smolensk on April 11.
Four Russian soldiers have been charged with stealing bank cards from a passenger killed when Polish President Lech Kaczynski's plane crashed in western Russia in early April.

Russian prosecutors said the soldiers used at least one of the cards to withdraw about $2,000. The soldiers were attached to the airport in Smolensk, near the site of the crash.

"All of the four accused have admitted to [stealing from the wreckage of the plane crash] and are actively cooperating with the investigation," Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, told journalists in Moscow. "They have been placed under surveillance by their commanders."

The April 10 crash killed President Kazcynski and 95 others who were on they way to a ceremony marking the 1940 murders of thousands of Poles by Soviet troops.

Polish investigators on June 7 said that money was withdrawn using a card belonging to Andrzej Przewoznik, who oversaw Poland's wartime memorials.

Russia initially denied both the theft and the arrests. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Aleksei Kuznetsov today said the ministry will apologize and return the stolen money once the soldiers' guilt is proven in court.

The soldiers face up to five years in prison if convicted.

compiled from agency reports