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02 November 2016, 11:58

Belarus' Defense Ministry comments on Belavia incident

MINSK, 2 November (BelTA) – A representative of Belarus' Defense Ministry offered comments on the incident with a Belavia aircraft in an interview with the Belarus 1 TV Channel, BelTA has learned.

“International law requires the crew meet the requirements of the air traffic control service which controls air traffic in the area of responsibility of this state,” said German Aleksandrov, head of the division for the use of airspace of the Armed Forces.

He commended the professionalism of the crew, who acted in strict accordance with the international law.

BelTA reported earlier that on 21 October 2016, Belavia Boeing 737-800, carrying out flight V2-840 from Zhulyany (Kiev) to Minsk, was forced to return to the departure airport. There were 136 passengers and six crew members on board. The plane took off from Zhulyany Airport at 15.25. At 15.36, when the plane was a mere 50 kilometers from the Belarusian border, the aircraft's pilot received an order from a traffic controller from the Kiev District division of the Ukrainian state air traffic control enterprise UkSATSE, to immediately head back, with no further explanation.

It was also stated that if the order was not fulfilled, fighter jets would be sent into the air. The commander of the aircraft fulfilled the order and started to descend at 15.37. At 15.55 the Belarusian plane landed at Zhulyany International Airport. Upon landing, one of the passengers, an Armenian citizen, was taken off the flight by Ukrainian law enforcement. After the refueling the plane took off and landed at Minsk National Airport at 17.33. The passenger who was taken off the flight was later released and left Kiev for Minsk at 19.00.

The Belarusian air carrier said it would request compensation incurred as a result of the actions of the Ukrainian authorities. Belavia offered an apology to its passengers for the inconvenience.

On 22 October, Belarus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Charge d'affaires of Ukraine to Belarus Valery Dzhigun. The head of the Ukrainian diplomatic mission was given a note of protest to the Ukrainian authorities over the forced return of the aircraft that was performing a regular flight V2-840 on the route Kiev-Minsk on 21 October. The note emphasizes that the Belarusian side expects an official apology and seeks compensation for all financial costs and expenses incurred as a result of the actions of the Ukrainian authorities.

Belarusian Ambassador to Ukraine Igor Sokol was also instructed to submit a similar note of protest to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry.

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