UK police reportedly boarded a Russian Aeroflot A-321 which arrived from Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow to London's Heathrow airport on Thursday, ordering the crew off the plane for an unannounced inspection, and offering no explanation. Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the unexpected search a "provocation", claiming international rules were breached.
When the pilots refused to abandon the aircraft due to regulations against inspections in the absence of the crew, British police would not allow them to leave the cockpit while the aircraft was searched.
"After the passengers deplaned, unexpectedly policemen arrived rose and demanded the crew to leave the plane in order to conduct an inspection there in the absence of the crew," a source told Interfax (translated).
“The British authorities asked the Russian crew, including the captain, to leave the plane. The commander of the aircraft proposed the inspection to be conducted in his presence as he’s forbidden from leaving the plane in accordance with the regulations. At the moment, the police proceed with the search without releasing the commander from the cabin and preventing him from being present during the inspection,” she said.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned the inspection. “We’re speaking of another provocation by the British authorities,” said Maria Zakharova, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
"The behavior of the British police is clearly evidence of the desire to conduct some manipulation on board without witnesses," Zakharova said on the air of the Rossiya 24 television channel, quoted by ria.ru.
"We demand that the British authorities return the situation to the legal channel and abandon the provocative action, we draw the attention of the world community to the unacceptable, dangerous and irresponsible behavior of London," Zakharova noted.
She called London’s actions "unacceptable, dangerous and irresponsible,” urging the international community to give them a proper evaluation. She added that Russian embassy staff was heading to the airport where the search of the plane took place.
Bizarrely, in a response on Twitter, the UK Metropolitan Police said "We are aware of a story circulating on social media. Please be advised that Metropolitan Police are not conducting a search of an Airbus inbound from Moscow at Heathrow."
We are aware of a story circulating on social media. Please be advised that Metropolitan Police are not conducting a search of an Airbus inbound from Moscow at Heathrow.— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) March 30, 2018
In other words, someone is lying.