Russia invites Ukrainian pilot who landed hail-damaged plane
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has invited Ukrainian pilot Aleksandr Akopov for a visit.
Last week, Akopov landed a passenger plane whose windshield was shattered by hail.
The reason for the invitation, the Russian side says, is ‘criticism at home’.
This was explained in an announcement on the Ministry’s Facebook page.
“Aleksandr Akopov has been subjected to harsh criticism on the internet for his supposed sympathies for Russia. The reason for the criticism was a Akopov’s profile picture on Facebook: a collage of photographs of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov and the pilot Akopov,” the message reads.
The Ministry thanked the Ukrainian pilot for his professionalism and added: “If they continue to criticize you in your homeland, come here, we’ll always be happy to see you.”
Akopov made a remarkable landing at the Turkish airport of Ataturk in Istanbul. Flying an Airbus A320 aircraft, the Atlas Global conducted flight was forced to land again in Istanbul shortly after taking off. The plane was headed for Erjan (North Cyprus) with 127 passengers on board.
The President of Ukraine, Petr Poroshenko, awarded Akopov with Ukraine’s Order of Courage.
The pilot himself, along with Ukrainian media, explained the appearance of the photograph of Lavrov on his Facebook profile page.
“One of our stewardesses photographed me like this. I simply look like Lavrov. We have the same kind of face and similar traits. I put it as my main profile picture. But this was a while ago. Before the beginning of the war in Donbass.”
Akopov noted that neither President Poroshenko nor the Minister of Infrastructure Vladimir Omelyan said anything about the photo.