Russian pilot crashes in Lithuania

Monday, September 19, 2005

Within the past 24 hours Russian and Lithuanian authorities have been haggling over the details of a crashed Su-27 fighter-bomber and the return of her pilot. While Lithuania's commander-in-chief has ruled out a joint investigation, Russian investigators would be granted access to an analysis of the plane's flight recorder.

Current information suggests that the plane was flying over the Baltic Sea when it suddenly veered off course due to a failure in navigation equipment. The pilot, Major Valery Troyanov, was questioned by Lithuanian prosecutors earlier in the day. Lithuanian Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said in a local radio interview: "We know that the plane flew into our territory giving a SOS signal. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says the same. We hope further investigation will confirm it,"

While both nations are in concurrence to the cause of the crash, the pilot has been labeled a "suspect" by prosecutors and will be kept until the end of investigation.