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Russia: Some Rostov-on-Don laser attacks due to insurgents? (UPDATE: Maybe not...)

In five June incidents, pilots were temporarily blinded in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Incidents occurred on approach to the Rostov-on-Don airport on June 3, June 7 and twice within an hour on June 23. In addition, the pilot of a police helicopter was blinded in mid-June. German news agency DPA reported that “insurgents in the Caucasus region were responsible” for these laser attacks.
In a separate Moscow-area incident, a laser beam was aimed at an Airbus 319 jet landing at Domodedovo Airport on June 22 2011. The beam missed the cockpit and the aircraft landed safely.

The June 22 Moscow laser came from Shakovo (“A” on the map), about 5 km from Domodedovo Airport (“B”)

Russia’s aviation agency says there have been 30 laser incidents thus far in 2011, a six-fold increase over the 5 incidents in 2010. Most have been from the Rostov area and from two other Moscow-area airports.

From the Moscow Times, RIA Novosti and Trend, which reported on the DPA insurgent angle. See also this earlier story at LaserPointerSafety.com.

UPDATE, June 26 2011: Rostov-on-Don police arrested a 21-year-old man for pointing his laser pointer at pilots. The man was reported by a neighbor who saw him shining a green laser into the sky at 2:45 am local time from his house at 4 Volkova Street. There was no additional information regarding any specific linkage to the five recent Rostov-on-Don laser illuminations of aircraft. From RIA Novosti and Russian Opinion. [Quick analysis: If the man was indeed responsible for the earlier incidents, the insurgent theory would seem less likely since insurgents probably would not attack from their homes.]

UPDATE 2, July 3 2011: Police said the pilot of a passenger jet was illuminated by a laser pen while landing in Rostov-on-Don on July 2 2011. [Quick analysis: Either a new person (other than the 21-year-old arrested June 26) is aiming lasers at Rostov aircraft, or police were wrong and the 21-year-old was not responsible for the June attacks.] RIA Novosti reports that the 21-year-old said he was innocent. He gave alibis to the police, who are checking out his whereabouts during the earlier incidents. From RIA Novosti. See also a July 3 story about proposed legislation introduced in the State Duma.