Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, banned on Monday sales of laser pointers in the republic after one was used to shine into pilots' eyes as they flew into Grozny.
Police in Chechnya detained on Monday a teenager who on Sunday had aimed a laser pointer at the cockpit of a passenger aircraft as it came into land at the airport in the republic's capital, almost blinding the pilots.
"I am officially warning that the penalty will be severe. Any excuses that parents did not know what their child was doing will not be taken into account," Kadyrov said. "What is the difference in how the lives of passengers are subjected to danger, whether it is a bullet from a rifle or a laser beam?"
The teenager, born in 1994, received a warning and released as it was his first brush with the law. His parents said they did not know what their son was doing.
"I am personally taking this issue under control. I do not even want to hear that someone has such toy. If it is dangerous then it is not a toy," Kadyrov added.
Some 30 similar incidents have occurred in Russia since early this year, mostly at Moscow airports. In June, aviation authorities expressed concern over the increasing number of laser-related attempts targeting aircraft.
They seem to have caught on in the south of Russia, with three incidents last month in the city of Rostov-on-Don. On June 3, the crew member of a passenger aircraft was blinded and on June 7, the captain of another passenger plane was also blinded upon landing. A week later, someone blinded the pilots of a police helicopter as it hovered before landing.
Two weeks ago, someone tried to blind the pilots of a passenger aircraft en route from St. Petersburg to Moscow as it was landing at Domodedovo International Airport.