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London’s reaction to search of Russian plane aims to divert attention — Russian embassy

LONDON, March 31. /TASS/. The Russian embassy in London said on Saturday it viewed the UK security minister’s explanations regarding the recent search of a Russian plane as an attempt to distract attention from provocative actions by UK law enforcement bodies.

Earlier on Saturday, UK Security Minister Ben Wallace explained that Friday’s search of an Aeroflot plane at the Heathrow Airport was a "routine" procedure aimed at protecting the UK "from organized crime and from those who attempt to bring harmful substances like drugs or firearms into the country". He added that once those checks were carried out, the plane was allowed to carry on with its onward journey.

Commenting on the explanations, the Russian embassy’s press service said in a statement: "This is a clear attempt by the Minister to divert attention from the provocative actions by British law enforcement officers who have tried to search the aircraft without the captain present, in violation of the existing rules."

"Mr Wallace’s logic is difficult to comprehend. Aeroflot and Russian airports observe strict international security standards and didn’t give rise to doubts in that respect," the statement reads. "Moreover, it is quite strange to search for "drugs and firearms" intended to be "brought into the country" in an empty airplane ready to welcome departing passengers."

"This official explanation only aggravates our doubts as to the real intentions of the team that has tried to perform an unlawful search," the embassy continued.

Aeroflot executives said on Friday the UK authorities had searched the jet, bound to perform a return flight SU2583 from London to Moscow, without providing any explanations for their actions. In violation of the effective international rules, the captain of the jet was locked in the cockpit. The airline said the search fully ran counter to the international practice for such operations.

The Russian embassy in the UK has sent a note to the UK Foreign Office, demanding explanations for what it described as an outright provocation by the British authorities.