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Incident with Russian aircraft demands full clarification from Switzerland - lawmaker

November 19, 2016, 19:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group headed to Peru’s capital city for the APEC summit. Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and escorted it to the border with France

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©  Stanislav Krasilnikov / TASS

MOSCOW, November 19. /TASS/. Full clarification should be received from Switzerland over the incident when a plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group bound for Peru was intercepted and escorted by Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets as it was not the first time when Swiss warplanes fly next to aircraft with Russian state delegations on board, Chairman of the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) committee for foreign affairs, Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview with the Life.Zvuk (Sound) radio station on Saturday.

"Now we should demand firmly and inflexibly full clarification of the incident from the Swiss authorities and after receiving these explanations we should define our further actions," Kosachev said, reminding that about a year ago a similar incident occurred with an aircraft carrying Russian State Duma (lower house) Speaker Sergei Naryshkin to a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva.

"Owing to these two episodes, we can say that they are not accidental, but form a certain system of action," the lawmaker said. "It is hard for me even to imagine for what purposes this system has been organized as it does not make sense for Switzerland, as a neutral country, to show off military muscle. Moreover, when the plane has all the required letters and fly along a given route with a pre-declared destination."

Kosachev says that the incident does not ennoble Switzerland which positions itself as a totally neutral country, "facilitating communications and dialogues but not bringing confrontation."

On November 18, a plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group headed to Peru’s capital city for the APEC summit. Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and escorted it to the border with France. Among the passengers on board the Ilyushin Il-96-300 were members of President Vladimir Putin’s delegation and reporters.

Earlier, TASS reported that the Russian Embassy to Switzerland sent a note to that country’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), where it expressed bewilderment over the approach of the Swiss Air Force’s fighters to the plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group and asked to give explanations as the permission for the flight had been received well in advance.

The Rossiya Special Flight Group is engaged in aviation services for Russian top officials, including the president and prime minister, as well as members of their delegations during official visits abroad or working trips across Russia.

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