Told a hijacked plane filled with passengers was headed for Sochi Olympics, Putin says he ordered it shot down
The order was rescinded when the 2014 incident was revealed to be a false alarm, Russian president says
Russia’s Vladimir Putin in 2014 ordered a passenger aircraft which was reported to be hijacked and carrying a bomb and targeting the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to be shot down, the president said in a film shown on Sunday.
In a two-hour documentary titled Putin and available on Russian social media, Putin told interviewer Andrey Kondrashov he received a telephone call from security officers responsible for the Sochi Olympics on February 7, 2014, shortly before the opening ceremony was due to start.
“I was told: a plane en route from Ukraine to Istanbul was seized, captors demand landing in Sochi,” Putin said in the film.
The pilots of a Turkish Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 flying from Kharkiv to Istanbul reported that one of the passengers had a bomb and the plane had to change course to Sochi, said Kondrashov, who became the president’s election campaign spokesman in January.
There were 110 passengers on-board, while over 40,000 people had gathered at the stadium to watch the opening ceremony, Kondrashov said.
Putin said he sought advice from security officers and was told the emergency plan for that type of situation called for the plane to be shot down.
“I told them: act according to the plan,” Putin said, adding that shortly afterwards he arrived at the Olympic venue with the International Olympic Committee officials.
After several minutes Putin received another call, he said, informing him that it was a false alarm – the passenger was drunk and the plane would continue its flight to Turkey.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Sunday confirmed the comments in the film.
Putin runs for the presidency on Sunday, March 18.
The country is on a high alert ahead of the football World Cup from June 14 to July 15, with matches in a number of cities.
In other comments in the video, Putin said his grandfather served as a cook for both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.
Putin said Spiridon Putin was a valued member of staff for Stalin, the wartime Soviet leader who died in 1953.
“(He) was a cook at Lenin’s and later at Stalin’s, at one of the dachas in the Moscow area,” Putin said.
Interviewer Kondrashov said Spiridon Putin continued to cook for the Soviet establishment until shortly before he died in 1965, aged 86.