LOT plane held at St Petersburg airport for arrest of dissident

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

A Polish LOT plane was ordered to taxi back to its starting position at St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport on Monday evening, after which Russian security officers boarded and arrested a Russian dissident, Polish media have reported.

Andrey Pivovarov, former director of the 'Open Russia' organisation associated with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was escorted from the plane, which was bound for Warsaw.

Border officers of the Federal Security Service initially denied they had detained Pivovarov. Media claimed that the activist was to be taken to Krasnodar as a criminal procedure against him has started there.

Pivovarov announced the detention himself on Twitter. "They just took me from a flight at Pulkovo," he tweeted. "I was flying for a holiday. When I passed through customs there were no questions. The plane had started to taxi when suddenly 'stop'. Cops boarded and took me from the plane. I am now at the FSB office at Pulkovo airport."

LOT's press office commented that the plane's captain had to obey the instruction as he was in Russian jurisdiction.

"We are at the stage of gathering information; we need to check whether it was Russian messiness or if there were also other causes," Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz added the ministry was checking information from LOT and the Civil Aviation Authority. "It must be expected, knowing the activities of our Russian neighbours, that it had the nature of a certain type of provocation," he said.

"If they wanted to arrest a representative of the Russian opposition, it could have been done another way," he continued.

Przydacz also said that if there was a breach of the law or aviation norms then Poland "will respond also through diplomatic channels, expecting clarification."