Romania blocks Russian deputy PM from entering EU airspace
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had to scrap a trip to Moldova on Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace.
Rogozin told Russian news agencies that he and other Russian officials were traveling on a commercial flight to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau when the plane was denied passage over Romania or Hungary, both European Union members. It had to land in the Belarusian capital of Minsk because it was running out of fuel.
The deputy prime minister is one of the most senior Russian officials slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Rogozin told the Interfax news agency that he started using commercial flights after Romanian authorities closed their airspace to his chartered flight in 2014.
Romania’s foreign ministry confirmed on Friday that authorities had not allowed Rogozin to enter the country’s airspace.
In a tweet later Friday, Rogozin said Romanian authorities “put lives of the passengers, women and children at risk” by forcing the plane to divert. He issued a warning for the Romanian government: “You wait for an answer, bastards!”
Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, who was to meet Rogozin on Friday in Chisinau, reacted angrily.
“We are watching an unprecedented Russia-phobic show, which is designed to destroy Moldovan-Russian relations,” Dodon said.
Opposition activists had gathered at the Chisinau airport earlier Friday to protest Rogozin’s visit.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday presented Romania’s envoy to Russia with a note of protest, urging an investigation into the incident and arguing that it put the lives of those onboard at risk.
“Moscow is treating the incident as a deliberate provocation, which seriously damages the bilateral relations,” the ministry said, urging Romania to investigate the incident.
Associated Press writer Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed.