PRAGUE, August 29 (RIA Novosti) – A plane with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on board took off from the Bratislava airport Friday shortly after Poland permitted a flyover in its airspace, according to Slovakia's Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Netik.
“The Tu-154 plane with Shoigu on board took off at 19:10 CET [17:10 GMT] from the Bratislava airport,” the spokesman said.
On Friday, Shoigu was returning from the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Slovakian national uprising that took place in the town of Banska Bystrica. Shortly after takeoff, the pilots were informed by ground control that Poland refused to let the plane cross the Polish airspace. The plane made a U-turn and landed in Bratislava about an hour later.
A Polish armed forces spokesman, Lt. Col. Piotr Walatek, told RIA Novosti that the flyover incident took place because of pilots' mistake. The Russian flight had had civilian status when it left Moscow. Meanwhile, a military flyover can only take place if the aviation authorities are informed no later than 72 hours before the flight.
Poland's state air navigation services agency also said it barred the plane from entering the Poland’s airspace because the Russian authorities had requested the passage of a civilian jet, not the military one. The agency added that the plane would be allowed to fly over Poland when the flight status is changed to “non-military.”