Romania denied passage over its territory to a commercial plane that was carrying Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as well as hundreds of other passengers to neighbouring Moldova on July 28. The decision drew an angry reaction from the Russian official, as he was prevented from attending an event in the Moldovan separatist republic of Transnistria.
After the Moldovan authorities denied access to his military jet, Rogozin took a commercial flight to Moldova where he was planning to attend the ceremonies dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria. Chisinau is taking an increasingly tough line against the authorities in the Russian-backed regime in Tiraspol, and has the support of its neighbours Romania and Ukraine.
Rogozin is on the list of the people sanctioned by the EU following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The plane carrying the Russian official finally landed in the Belarusian capital Mink after it was prevented from landing in Hungary.
Rogozin reacted harshly after he was barred access over Romania. “The Romanian authorities endangered the passengers of the S7 plane, women and children. There was enough fuel to get to Minsk. Wait for an answer, bastards,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter.
The Russian foreign ministry also reacted and labelled the incident “a deliberate provocation that seriously undermines Russian-Romanian relations,” a ministry statement said. The ministry called on the Romanian authorities "to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and provide an explanation".
Rogozin has described the Romanian authorities’ decision as "a demarche addressed to the Moldovan president,” according to TASS. The Russian deputy prime minister told the news agency that "on Friday morning [Moldovan President Igor] Dodon had discussed all details of the visit with Russia’s ambassador Farit Mukhametshin." "As a matter of fact, it was a demarche addressed to the Moldovan president," Rogozin said.
In a Facebook post, Rogozin said that “the shameful stunt of the Romanians and the Moldovan government requires careful analysis and precisely calculated stinging countermeasures.”
Before the news that the Moscow-Chisinau flight had been denied passage over Romania broke, groups of Moldovans had already gathered outside Chisinau airport to express their dissatisfaction with the visit of the Russian official, deschide.md reported. Meanwhile, an online petition entitled “Stop to the sponsors of the breakaway regime” signed by more than 1,700 people called on the Moldovan authorities to forbid Rogozin from entering the country and declare him persona non grata.
The Moldovan authorities had previously denied access to Rogozin’s military jet, forcing him to attempt the journey on a commercial flight. On July 19, Moldova’s pro-EU government said the military jet that was originally planned to transport the official Russian delegation could not fly to Chisinau and further to Transnistria’s capital city Tiraspol because “at this moment the necessary conditions for such flights are not met”.
In a similar situation in 2014, Romania denied overflight rights to Rogozin’s military plane on his return from Transnistria having allowed him to use his jet on his way there. This forced Rogozin to take a commercial flight on his return from Transnistria, which created an opportunity for the Moldovan authorities to seize documents given to Rogozin by Transnistrian officials. "I'll fly on board TU-160,” he reacted at that time — a reference to a Russian bomber plane.
In a separate incident, the Moldovan authorities also denied access to the country to a Russian MP and a group of artists who were going to take part in the ceremonies in Transnistria.
In a press statement, the pro-Russian Moldovan president labeled both the detention of the artists and the Romanian authorities’ refusal to allow the plane on its territory “a Russia-phobic show,” according to deschide.md.