Presidential candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski paid a powerfully symbolic visit to the tomb of his twin brother, Poland's late president, on Friday, the 61st anniversary of their birth and the last day of campaigning.
Poles will elect a successor on Sunday to Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in Russia on April 10 along with 95 others, including his wife Maria and much of Poland's political and military elite.
The presidential couple were buried in the crypt of Wawel cathedral in the ancient capital Krakow, a place traditionally reserved for royalty and national heroes.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his niece, Lech's daughter Marta, entered the crypt holding red roses and spent 20 minutes there in private prayer and reflection before attending a short mass. Television cameras and journalists were not allowed in.
Kaczynski, looking tired and solemn, made no comment as he left the cathedral to return to the election campaign trail, but he later told a meeting of energy experts in Krakow: "This is a very sad birthday for me."
A Catholic mass was planned at Warsaw cathedral on Friday evening to honour Lech Kaczynski on the anniversary of his birth. Worshippers were then due to walk to the presidential palace to set candles at its gate in memory of the dead leader.
The crash two months ago triggered an outpouring of sympathy for Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and now leader of the right-wing main opposition Law and Justice party (PiS).
Kaczynski decided to run for the presidency, saying he wanted to safeguard his brother's legacy. He has proved an astute campaigner, toning down his traditionally aggressive style in a bid to win over middle-of-the-road voters.
Komorowski leads polls
That has helped him to narrow the gap with frontrunner Bronislaw Komorowski, although three opinion polls published on Friday confirmed that Kaczynski remained in second place.
Two of the polls showed Komorowski, the candidate of Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, ahead but short of the 50 percent required to win outright on Sunday. A runoff would then be held on July 4.
A third poll by PBS DGA showed Komorowski, who became Poland's acting president on Lech Kaczynski's death in his capacity as speaker of parliament, winning 51 percent on Sunday against Kaczynski's 33 percent.
Kaczynski scored a small victory on Friday when an appeals court quashed a district court ruling obliging him to publicly retract a comment he had made suggesting that Komorowski wanted to privatise Poland's public health service. Komorowski strongly denied the claim. The case now returns to the district court.
Both Komorowski and Kaczynski were due to end their election campaigns on Friday in the Baltic port of Gdansk, cradle of the pro-democracy Solidarity movement to which they both once belonged and which toppled the communist regime in 1989.
Lech Walesa, the former Soldarity leader and Poland's first post-communist president, reaffirmed his support for Komorowski on Friday in an interview for Reuters Television.
"He is a man of dialogue, reason and seriousness," he said.
"(If Kaczysnki wins) there will be a lot of emotion, a lot of unnecessary infighting, lots of energy and work will get wasted," added Walesa, long at odds with Kaczynski over aspects of Poland's communist past and its democratic transition.
ReutersLast Mod: 18 Haziran 2010, 22:53