Ukraine launches probe over plane hijack bid

2014-02-09 08:42
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Georges Gobet, AFP)

Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Georges Gobet, AFP)

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Kiev - Ukraine on Saturday 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 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.

Lenko said the Ukrainian - reported by one official in Kiev as being "in an advanced state of drunkenness" - was opposed to the politics of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart and ally Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian investigator said the man on Friday demanded that the Istanbul-bound Boeing 737 jet be flown to Sochi where Yanukovych was holding crisis talks with Putin on the sidelines of the Games' opening ceremony.

The would-be hijacker "said the hands of Yanukovych and Putin were drenched in blood", said Lenko.

The investigator added that the man had also demanded the release of Ukrainian "hostages" - a reference to dozens of demonstrators detained by police during the sometimes violent anti-government rallies that have been rattling Kiev for more than two months.

Putin's high-stakes meeting with Yanukovych was expected to focus on the Ukrainian leader's determination to ignore the demands of pro-EU protesters and stick to an economic alliance with Kiev's historic master Moscow.

The battle for the political future of Ukraine has pitted the interests of Russia against those of the West while also underscoring the deep political and cultural divide splitting the ex-Soviet nation of 46 million people.

Read more on:    turkey  |  ukraine  |  terrorism
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