MOSCOW, 14 June (BelTA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin finds it odd that so far no one has publicly asked the pilot-in-chief of the Ryanair aircraft whether he decided to land in Minsk or he was forced to land as he gave an interview with the NBC broadcaster, the transcript of which has been published on the Kremlin's website, BelTA has learned.
“I said recently in one of the conversations with a European colleague: the version of Mr Lukashenko, who told me about it, was that they received the information that there was an explosive device on board the plane. They informed the pilot without forcing the pilot to land. And the pilot made a decision to land in Minsk. That is all,” the Russian leader said.
When asked whether he believed him, Vladimir Putin noted: “Why should I not believe him? Ask the pilot. It's the simplest thing. Ask the chief pilot. Ask the commander of the aircraft. Did you ask him if he was he forced to land? Because I have not heard or seen an interview with the commander of the aircraft that landed in Minsk. Why not ask him? Why not ask him if he was forced to land? Why don't you ask him? It's actually even odd. Everybody accuses Lukashenko, but the pilot hasn't been asked.”
The Russian leader recalled another similar situation where the plane of the President of Bolivia was forced to land in Vienna, on the order of the US administration. “Air Force One, a presidential plane, was forced to land. The President was taken out of the aircraft. They searched the plane. And you don't even recall that. Do you think it was normal, that it was good but what Lukashenko did was bad? Look, let us speak the same language and let us use the same concepts,” Vladimir Putin noted.
In response the American journalist said that it was a completely different example as the matter is about the commercial flight. Then Vladimir Putin had to repeat: “Look, I will tell you one more time. What President Lukashenko told me, I don't have any reason not to believe him. For the third time, I'm telling you: Ask the pilot. Why don't you ask the pilot: Was he being scared? Was he being threatened? Was he being forced? The fact that information appeared that there was a bomb on the plane, that individuals, people who had nothing to do, who were passengers, who had nothing to do with politics or any kind of domestic conflicts, that they could perceive it negatively, could be worried about it, of course that's a bad thing. There is nothing good about this. And obviously, we condemn everything that has to do with this: international terrorism, the use of aircraft and so on. Of course, we are against this.”
“You've told me that the landing of the aircraft of the President of Bolivia is a completely different matter. Yes, it is different except that it is ten times worse than what was done, if anything was done in Belarus. But you just won't acknowledge it. You are ignoring it, and you want millions of people around the world to either not notice it or forget about it tomorrow. You won't get away with it. It won't happen,” Vladimir Putin said.