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Dmitry Rogozin's taunting tweet shows him outside Moscow's Domodedovo airport.
It's been a busy few days for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

On May 9, he bragged on Twitter about being able to land in Transdniester, Moldova's Moscow-backed separatist region, despite EU travel sanctions.

Now, he is claiming to be safely back in Moscow after eluding Ukrainian fighter jets bent on intercepting his plane.

And oh, he also threatened to bomb Romania.

Rogozin, a former NATO envoy, was in Transdniester to attend celebrations marking the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

He is on the list of top Russian officials slapped by EU and U.S. sanctions in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

A prolific Twitter user, Rogozin has posted a string of messages from Moldova's breakaway region, including one vowing to wipe out fascism with "a bullet in the head" -- a particularly grim pledge considering Moscow has branded all Ukrainian pro-democracy activists neo-Nazis.

Early on May 10, he claimed Romania and Ukraine barred him from entering their airspace. "Next time," he quipped, "I'll fly on a TU-160" bomber.

Three hours later, after saying he was "flying out despite the ban," Rogozin tweeted that Ukrainian fighter jets had turned back his plane.

But he then immediately posted a photo of himself smiling mischievously against the backdrop of Moscow's Domodedovo airport, leaving viewers scratching their heads.

Meanwhile, Russian officials who had accompanied Rogozin to Transdniester confirmed their aircraft had been turned back by Ukrainian warplanes and forced to land in Chisinau.

But Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, who was part of the Russian delegation, said Rogozin was not aboard the government jet and had returned to Moscow on a regular flight instead.

While the Russian minister's antics might have amused some readers, Romania and Ukraine might not be so impressed.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry dismissed Rogozin's claims as a "fantasy."

Romania's foreign ministry, in turn, urged Moscow to clarify its stance on Rogozin's threat to use a bomber in its airspace.

Such remarks, it said, constitute a "very serious statement in the current regional context."

-- Claire Bigg
A woman waves orange ribbons of St. George, a symbol widely associated with pro-Russia protests, in front of the occupied town-administration building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kostyantynivka late last month.
The St. George Ribbon, traditionally worn to mark victory against Nazi Germany in World War II, will be conspicuously absent from Ukraine's May 9 ceremonies this year -- at least in the country's west.

The ribbon has come to symbolize separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia militants have seized government buildings in a dozen towns.

Instead, many Ukrainians will be donning poppies resembling those worn in Britain and other Western countries to commemorate soldiers who have died in wars.

A stylized poppy created by Kharkiv designer Serhiy Mishakin has been adopted as an official emblem for May 9.


The initiative was launched by the Ukrainian Institute for National Memory, established in 2006 by then-President Viktor Yushchenko to shed light on little-known episodes of Ukrainian history and to combat what it says are Soviet-era misrepresentations.

The institute's director, Volodymyr Vyatrovich, said the poppy was a fitting symbol since Ukrainian folk songs mention "poppies blooming where Cossack blood had been spilt."

Some, however, may see the red-and-black poppy as an unfortunate choice, since the same colors are used by Right Sector ultranationalists – a group accused by Moscow of being neo-Nazis.

-- Claire Bigg

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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