Ukraine Launches Terror Probe Over Attempted Plane Hijack To Sochi

Ukraine has launched a terror probe into a bid by an apparently drunk man to force an airliner flying to Turkey to land in Sochi where leaders were gathered for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games.

“We have launched an investigation into an attempt to commit an act of terror and an attempt to hijack a plane,” Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) investigative department chief Maxim Lenko told reporters on Saturday.

Lenko said the Ukrainian – who one official in Kiev said was “in an advanced state of drunkenness” during the incident – had a personal dislike for the politics of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart and ally Vladimir Putin.

Passengers leave a plane, involved in an attempted hijacking, at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul. Photo: Emrah Gurel
Passengers leave a plane, involved in an attempted hijacking, at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul. Photo: Emrah Gurel

Mr Yanukovych’s “hands are drenched in blood”, the man said as he demanded the plane be flown to Sochi where the Ukrainian leader held crisis talks with Mr Putin, according to Mr Lenko.

The meeting on the sidelines of the Games’ opening ceremony focused on a prolonged political crisis in Ukraine that has pitted the interests of Russia against those of the West.

The Ukrainian man – who officials said was born in 1969 – brandished what he said was a detonator as he tried gaining access to the cockpit of an aircraft operated by Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines on flight from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with 110 people on board.

Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets to force down the airliner at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. The man was immediately taken into custody and turned out to have neither a gun nor explosives.

The incident occurred in the middle of the lavish Sochi opening ceremony and highlighted the security challenges facing the Games due their proximity to the restless North Caucasus region where Russian forces are battling an Islamic insurgency. [AFP]

1 COMMENT

  1. In the evening on 7th of February a passenger of the airplane Boeing-737-800, flying from Kharkiv to Istanbul, tried to force the crew to change the direction and fly to Sochi, where the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games took place. He stated the pilots that there were Putin and Yanukovych in Sochi, which hands in blood, and announced requirements to free all hostages in Ukraine. In case of non-fulfillment of the requirements the passenger threatened to blow up the airplane by explosive device.

    The crew decided to make two distracting circles above the Black Sea and landed in the Istanbul airport. Two F – 16 of the Turkish Air Forces were lifted in the air to accompany the airplane. After landing the airplane was towed off to a safe place.

    The airplane was searched but explosive materials or some weapons on the board were not found. The “terrorist” was detained by the Turkish law enforcement authorities.

    Personality of the terrorist was identified. It was a citizen of Ukraine Artem Kozlov (born in 1969). He is from Kharkiv. It is known as an active opposition political figure. On last summer he was an author of comments “Get up, Ukraine” in social networks posts. In 2012 he headed Leninist district organization of “Front zmin” (leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk), and in 2013 he was personal web-site administrator of the deputy of Kharkiv Regional Council from “Batkivshchyna” (leader Yulia Tymoshenko) Ivan Varchenko. Presently he is the activist of “BLOW of Vitaly Klychko” political party.

    He became permanent participant of “evromaidan” from the moment of its beginning in Kyiv. In social networks posts laid out photos with Vitaly Klychko, Yuriy Lutsenko and landscapes of Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv.

    Presently Artem Kozlov suspected by Ukrainian law enforcement in organization of mass disturbances and preparation of terrorist acts in Kyiv.

    After the search of his apartment was found documents that affirm his active political activity- leaflets of “evromaidan ” and “black-list of “Party of Regions” properties.

    On February, 9 in Istanbul he was arrested under the decision of the court. Officials do not announce, what kind of crimes he is been accused of.

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