Putin ordered to shoot down passenger plane over terror threat
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in a new film he ordered – but later pulled back – the shooting down of a passenger plane in 2014 after officials believed a man with a bomb was targeting the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
In the two-hour film called “Putin,” the Russian president said he was advised on February 7, 2014, that a plane carrying passengers from Ukraine to Turkey had been hijacked – just as the 2014 Winter Olympics Games were to be opened.
“I was told: A plane en route from Ukraine to Istanbul was seized, captors demand landing in Sochi,” Putin said in the film, Reuters reported.
There were 110 passengers aboard. There were reportedly 40,000 in attendance at the Opening Ceremonies.
Security officials believed the plane was taken over by a man with a bomb and changed its course to Sochi.
Putin ordered that the plane be downed as part of the emergency plan.
“I told them: Act according to the plan,” Putin told reporter Andrey Kondrashov, a top state TV presenter and Putin’s current press secretary.
But the terrorist scare turned out to be a false alarm and the Russian leader called off the order. The passenger who caused the panic was drunk and the plane was still on its way to Turkey.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, reportedly confirmed Mr Putin’s account.
Putin was also asked during the interview whether there were any conditions under which the Russian government would give back Crimea to Ukraine.
“What are you talking about? Such circumstances do not exist and never will,” Putin said, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.
Crimea, a territory that formally belonged to Ukraine was annexed by Russia in 2014 following Russian meddling and a disputed referendum.
The film was released just a week before the presidential elections on March 18 that Putin is expected to win.
Putin faces multiple challengers, but none of them are expected to seriously challenge the incumbent. Alexei Navalny, a prominent leader of opposition, has been barred from standing in the election.