Brits commandeer and ransack Aeroflot liner

No warning given. They ordered the crew out and when the pilot refused to leave they shut him in the cockpit: no witnesses to the search.

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From the Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten: Friday evening the British Border and Customs authority at the London Heathrow airport, with no warning, searched an Aeroflot airliner in from Moscow. Contrary to the rules of international air travel, according to the airline, they ordered the pilot and the crew to leave the plane. The pilot refused, having regard to his duties as a captain. He was, as the Russian state-owned news Agency TASS, reported, forced to stay the cockpit, while the authorities were searching the plane.

The BBC reported that it had received the information on the customs action from the British foreign Ministry. In recent days the foreign Minister, Boris Johnson has stepped up his particularly sharp public criticism of Russia.

Russia lodged a sharp protest according to the spokeswoman of the foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova against this deed of the authorities. Russia calls on London to return to the international practices in air travel. “The behavior of the British police is a clear demonstration of the desire to board and tamper without a witness,” said Zakharova in the radio station Rossiya 24, according to RIA.

Employees of the Russian Ambassador went to the airport to investigate the situation.


TASS reports this from the Russian Embassy:

“Border Force and Customs officers have searched the aircraft that was conducting the Aeroflot flights 2582 / 2583, Moscow – London – Moscow,” it said. “This kind of event is extraordinary. Moreover, the British officials tried to search the aircraft without the crew being present, something categorically prohibited by the rules in force.”

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“After an Embassy officer arrived at the airport, long negotiations were conducted that allowed to ensure the right of the captain to be take part in the search,” the embassy said. “After the search was over, the British officers refused to provide any written document that would specify the reasons for their actions, their legal foundation and their outcome.”

“Our attempts to get in touch with the Foreign Office in order to clarify the reasons of the inappropriate behavior of British officials did not bring fruit,” the report said. “The Embassy has sent a diplomatic note demanding the British side to provide explanations of the incident.”


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