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Russian delegation stranded in Moldova returns to Moscow

The Russian delegation that was stranded in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, after Ukraine and Romania had closed their airspace, has returned to Moscow.

"We have landed," Duma (lower house of the Russian [parliament) Deputy Sergei Zhikharev said on Saturday, May 10.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who led the delegation to Moldova's breakaway Transdniestrian Republic, said he had returned to Moscow even though his plane had been forced by Ukrainian interceptors to fly back to Chisinau.

"Ukrainian interceptor aircraft forced our plane to make a U-turn," Rogozin wrote in his Twitter account. Several minutes later he added: "But the defence industry has its own trails. I am already in Moscow. And the [Kiev] junta left in the basket." To prove his words, Rogozin posted a photo of himself against the building of Moscow's Domodedovo airport.

The plane, Yak-42 of the RUSJET airline, tail number 9602, flew out of Chisinau, entered Ukraine's airspace, flew several kilometres into it, made a U-turn and flew back to Chisinau, according to the Flightradar-24 air traffic monitoring system.

"Romania has closed its airspace for my plane on U.S. demand. Ukraine is not letting us through again," Rogozin said and stressed, however, that he was not going to cancel trips to Transdniestria. "Next time I will fly by Tupolev-160 [strategic bomber]," he said.

Ukraine closed its airspace for flights to and from Crimea and landings in Sevastopol since the peninsula's accession to Russia in March of this year. The airspace over Crimea is now controlled by Russia and its aviation authorities.

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, who was in Transdniestria as a member of the government delegation, told ITAR-TASS by phone that "at first Ukraine allowed us to fly through its airspace but then the pilot was ordered to leave it. Otherwise, he was threatened to be forced to land. This is a gross violation of international law and complete ignorance of law," the minister said.

Slutsky said "Ukraine did not explain the reason. Our guess is that there are key Russian politicians aboard. But there have been no official explanations".

His colleague Alexei Zhuravlev said the authorities had explained their actions by the fact that there are persons aboard the plane who have been prohibited from entering the European Union, he said. "They are trying to block our departure from Moldova by all means and so far have given no clear explanations because entering a country and flying over it are different things," the MP said.

The delegation led by Rogozin was in Transdniestria to participate in celebrations marking the 69th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 10May14]

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