Aeroflot Flight 244
An Aeroflot Antonov An-24, similar to the one involved in the hijacking
|Date||15 October 1970|
|Aircraft type||Antonov An-24b|
|Flight origin||Batumi, Adjar ASSR, Georgian SSR|
Lithuanian Pranas Brazinskas and his 13-year-old son Algirdas seized an An-24 domestic passenger plane en route from Batumi, Adjar ASSR, Georgian SSR, to Sukhumi and Krasnodar to defect to the West. Pranas had been sentenced twice by the Soviet authorities in 1955 and 1965 for financial crimes related to state-run shops where he worked. They selected seats closest to the cockpit in the cabin. Five minutes after takeoff while the aircraft was at an altitude of 800 meters, they called over the flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko and demanded control of the aircraft in a threatening note. Kurchenko tried to block the entrance to the cockpit but failed, yelling out that the two were armed shortly before the hijackers shot her twice at point blank range, killing her.
Several members of the crew were wounded in the onboard shootout. Pranas Brazinskas claimed the shootout occurred because of resistance from two armed guards on board. According to Russian media, the shootout was started by Brazinskas when the flight attendant ran to the cockpit to warn the pilots, and there were no guards on board. The hijackers commandeered the plane to Trabzon, Turkey, and surrendered to the Turkish government.
The Brazinskas were tried and imprisoned,[clarification needed] but Turkey refused to extradite them to the Soviet authorities. The plane with its passengers was soon returned to the USSR. After spending some time[clarification needed] in prison, the Brazinskas were granted amnesty[why?] in 1974 and made their way to Venezuela and finally[when?] to the United States. They were initially arrested but later allowed to apply for asylum.[when?]
The Soviet Union condemned the United States for granting asylum to murderers and pressed for their extradition. Up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet government continued to press for the extradition of the Brazinskas, and regularly assailed what they alleged was American hypocrisy in harboring terrorists who attack the aircraft of socialist countries, while pursuing very different actions against terrorists who attacked American nationals, such as in the Achille Lauro case.
- Pranas Brazinskas: unknown side of life (in Lithuanian). Balsas.lt. November 16, 2001
- Korobeinikov, Dmitry (5 December 2003), Dead on Arrival. Pravda.ru
- Scott, Erik R. (2018). "The Hijacking of Aeroflot Flight 244: States and Statelessness in the Late Cold War". Past & Present. 243: 213–245. doi:10.1093/pastj/gty044.
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- Gubarev, O. Воздушный террор: хроника преступлений. М., Вече, 2006. pgs. 114-116
- 1970 Hijacker Convicted of Murdering Father. Los Angeles Times. November 2, 2002
- Krasnov, Vladislav (1986), Soviet defectors: the KGB wanted list, p. 125. Hoover Press, ISBN 0-8179-8231-0, ISBN 978-0-8179-8231-7
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- Ginsburgs, George and Rubinstein, Alvin Z (1993), Russia and America: from rivalry to reconciliation, p. 171. M.E. Sharpe,
- Hijackers' Saga: Dad Slain, Son Arrested. Los Angeles Times. February 9, 2002.