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Biography of Poland's Lech Kaczynski

  • Polish president Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in western Russia
  • He had a long history of defending workers' rights, backed formation of Solidarity
  • In 2002, he was elected mayor of Warsaw and rose to become President in 2005

London, England (CNN) -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski, a lifelong academic, rose to popularity leading Warsaw, the city of his birth.

Born in June, 1949, to parents who were educators -- his mother, a teacher, served as a nurse during WWII, and his father was a lecturer at Warsaw University of Technology -- Kaczynski was one of twin boys who would both hold national office.

Kaczynski was elected president in 2005 after securing more than 54 percent of the first round vote, according to the president's official Web site.

Kaczynski appointed his brother Jaroslaw prime minister in June 2006, a post he held until the following November.

According to the presidential Web site, Kaczynski worked on behalf of the Worker's Defence Committee in 1976 to collect money for oppressed workers.

He later gave training and lectures labor law and history to members of the Free Trade Unions.

In 1980, Kaczynski supported the formation of Solidarity, a new national umbrella union pulling together the country's trade unions.

Robert Kupiecki, Poland's ambassador to the United States, said the Solidarity movement brought freedom to the Polish nation.

"The greatest legacy is one of freedom, and it's the one of creating the foundation of enormous political and economic success in Poland," Kupiecki said.

Kaczynski "represented the generation of freedom with the legacy of Solidarity movement," he said.

Kaczynski went on to become president of the Supreme Chamber of Control, and later worked for the Institute of Public Affairs and as a committee member within the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

He worked as a professor at the the University of Gdansk in 1996 and 1997, and from 1999 on served as a professor at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, according to his Web site.

Kaczynski held his first senior government post in 2000, when he was appointed minister of Justice.

The brothers combined politically in 2001 to form the right-wing Law and Justice National Committee party. And in 2002, the increasingly popular Lech Kaczynski was elected mayor of Warsaw.

During his time in the position, Kaczynski earned approval from voters for his tough stance on corruption. He was also said to have improved security in the city, according to the Presidential Web site.

While he earned plaudits for his anti-corruption efforts, Kaczynski also had a long history of defending workers' rights. He studied law at the University of Warsaw and later went on to work closely with unions.

In 1980, he defended his doctoral dissertation -- "The Extent of Freedom of the Parties in Shaping the Content of an Employment Relationship" -- and in 1990, his postdoctorate dissertation, "Social Pension".