Putin says he ordered plane shot down after reported hijacking
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he once ordered a plane shot down before a supposed threat was found to be a false alarm.
The longtime Kremlin leader said in a new documentary bearing his name that he received a warning before the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi that a plane was hijacked and heading towards the games.
Putin, who attended the ceremony, was told that a Pegasus Airlines plane from Kharkiv was headed towards southern Russia instead of its original destination of Istanbul, and that the plan in such situations was to shoot down the aircraft.
The documentary showed pictures of the September 11 attack and said that “Olympic staff in Sochi knew recent history” before Putin told filmmakers that he had ordered officials to follow the plan.
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However, the threat turned out to be a drunk man, and the flight went to Istanbul as scheduled, according to Putin and a Russian intelligence official interviewed by state-supported journalist Andrey Kondrashov.
The Kremlin strongman has also been accused of facilitating the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 through his support for pro-Russian rebels, but denies any connection.
The “Putin” documentary, spread on Russian social media, comes as Putin is running for reelection and made multiple statements seen as an effort to drum up support, including touting an “invincible” missile that could get past American defenses.
The former KGB agent is expected to win easily in the vote on Sunday and faces only a slight challenge from a Communist Party candidate and his former mentor’s daughter, television personality Ksenia Sobchak.
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However, some in the Kremlin have reportedly worried about low turnout among voters who see the election as a foregone conclusion, and the resulting lack of legitimacy for Putin.
Other get out the vote measures in recent months have included competitions where Russians who post selfies at the polls can win an iPhone and a homophobic video that points to an apocalyptic world where citizens are forced to house gay men.
The “Putin” documentary also saw the leader tie himself to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin by saying that his grandfather was a cook for both him and revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.
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