The night the Russians dropped in

By Alfred Sasako

IT is not a normal sight in Solomon Islands – that a group of Russians drop in on a private jet. This week they did – all six of them – four men and two women.

Perhaps it is one of the reasons why the timing for their visit was kept under wrap as such arrival would no doubt have attracted quite a crowd if it were to have taken place in broad daylight.

One social media commentator suggested the private jet touched down at 6:50pm – 10 minutes earlier than scheduled.

One of the two buses taking the Russians into town after they arrived on a private jet last night.

Of much contention was an eyewitness account which Island Sun carried about the fact that Civil Aviation Authority electricians were late in turning on the powerful floodlights for more than half an hour.

Island Sun was at the international Airport precinct for about two hours – from shortly after 7pm to around 8pm. Between 7pm and around 7.30pm the floodlights remained off.

This shows the airport in total darkness without flood lights.

This was at the time the Russian jet was parked outside the international terminal building and being cleared by Customs and Immigration officials.

The only lights that could be seen in the pitch-black darkness were those from inside the Terminal Building, the lights inside the jet as well as the blue tarmac light. There were no flood lights.

The only light seen on the left here is the one coming from the tail of the Russian jet.

I took a number of photographs including two which show the aircraft parking area in total darkness. The explanation which I was given was that the electricians arrived late, possibly because they were not informed about the jet’s arrival time in good time.

Why the lightings became an issue is because our people simply do not have the bona fides of the Russian individuals. Were they businessmen, for example? Or were they using businesses as a cover for their visit?

The other vitally important question is who in the new government invited them? I am inclined to believe that Prime Minister Ricky Houenipwela was cautiously guarded about the visit.

So security concerns should be a major consideration for all Solomon Islands people if we care about our country. Surprisingly, even senior people in this country are still accusing us of creating the story.

The timing of the visit is another concern. Why invite the Russians when the government is still finding its feet? So many unanswered questions.

One of the two buses taking the Russians into town after they arrived on a private jet last night.
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Milton Ragaruma
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