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YEKATERINBURG, April 16 (Itar-Tass) – The Russian Air Forces and air defense troops have nothing to do with the disappearance of the An-2 plane in the Ural region more than nine months ago," chief of the 2nd Air Force and Air Defense Command Maj-Genl Viktor Savostyanov told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
"Those who insist on it, are misleading the investigators," Sevostyanov said, "if we talk about the disappearance of the An-2 - I don't like to keep discussing the tragedy – as I've repeatedly stated, our forces were not alerted on that day and did not destroy anything. Those who try to accuse the military of the incident, put the investigators on the wrong track. I sympathize with the relative's misfortune, but I underscore that the troops of 2nd Air Force and Air Defense Command have nothing to do with it.
The search for the missing plane is due to resume in late April. Earlier, Governor Yevgeny Kuvashev told a news conference that the rescue efforts would be low-scale compared with the previous operation.
"It makes no sense. Planes have scanned huge territories three times where the An-2 might have landed. However, they never found the An-2. It makes no sense to fly over the same territories again," Kuivashev said.
The regional leader stressed that all the airlines and services in charge of wildfire prevention had been ordered to monitor the areas where the An-2 might be found.
On June 1, 2012, An-2 pilot Khatip Kashapov took off without permission from the airfield in the town of Serov. The plane belonged to the Avia Zov company. There were 12 passengers on board. Criminal proceedings were opened over violations of air traffic rules and aircraft operation regulations and manslaughter.
Aircraft and search parties have inspected more than one million square kilometers of terrain in the Perm Territory, the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Kurgan and Svedlovsk regions and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area.
The press service of the Serov town court noted the the An-2 passengers were not listed as missing yet. "Under the law, the missing persons are those who have been unaccounted for a year," it said.