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Ukraine intercepts civilian airliner carrying anti-Maidan blogger
Ukraine Today reports that the Ukrainian air force threatened to scrambled a jet to intercept a civilian aircraft which was traveling from Kiev to Minsk, Belarus. Upon receiving the call, the pilot complied and returned to Kiev where the passenger was interviewed by authorities.
Ukraine Today reports:
On October 21, the SBU forced the aircraft to come back after it received information about a foreign citizen on board, who ‘presented a possible threat to the country’s national security’.
After the plane returned and the passenger was inspected, he was let go, because the law enforcers ensured the threat was ‘contained’, an SBU representative said in a statement.
Interfax-Ukraine reports that Ukraine did not scramble jets to intercept the airliner because the pilot immediately responded to the requests of air traffic controllers:
The aircraft departed the Zhuliany airport for Minsk on schedule at 3:25 p.m. on Friday.
“At 3:36 p.m., 50 kilometers before entering Belarus’ airspace, the captain received a command from the Kyiv district air traffic control center belonging to the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE) to immediately return to the departure airport without any explanations. It was also said that, in the event of disobedience, fighters would be scrambled,” Belavia said.
The captain complied with the command and started to descend at 3:37 p.m. The Belavia aircraft landed at the Zhuliany airport at 3:55 p.m.
The Armenian news outlet ARMENPRESS reports confirms that the passenger was an Armenian citizen, Armen Martirosyan, a famous blogger who lived in Kiev until 2014 and then moved to Russia after the Euromaidan revolution, which he was highly critical of on his blog.
Armenian citizen comments on Kiev-Minsk flight incident
YEREVAN, OCTOBER 22, ARMENPRESS. Armen Martirosyan – the Armenian citizen who was removed from the airplane en route Kiev-Minsk after it was forced to land – has commented on the incident. Martirosyan vowed to present details on the incident soon, Lenta.ru reports. "After consulting with lawyers I will announce what measures I will take", Martirosyan says.
The Foreign Ministry of Belarus has demanded an apology from Ukraine over the incident.
Heavy fighting in the Donbass, Grad rockets reportedly used
On Saturday the Ukrainian government reported that there had been 39 ceasefire violations over the previous 24 hours, and three Ukrainian soldiers had been wounded. The most alarming detail, however, is that Grad rockets were reportedly used by Russia-backed fighters — potentially a serious escalation.
Ukraine Today reports:
The multiple rocket launcher was used to shell the government forces at Troitske village in the Luhansk region. In addition, the combatants mounted attacks with 122-mm artillery, violating the ceasefire in the region 12 times overall.
The Mariupol sector continues to be a hotspot, where intense shooting has been going on quite a while. 18 attacks were registered there in the past 24 hours, and high-caliber artillery was used again.
Grad is back in conflict zone
Grad artillery in the conflict zone (GettyImages Photo) Militants used multiple rocket launcher to shell government forces, Kyiv says The Russian-backed separatist forces attacked the positions of Ukrainian soldiers 39 times overnight, using the Grad artillery for the first time in several months. This is according to the press-center of Ukraine's Anti-Terrorist operation.