Soviet officials flew a MiG-29 jet fighter back to the Soviet Union but left behind the wounded air force pilot who a day earlier made a daring flight to Turkey and asked for political asylum in the United States.
Turkish officials said the MiG-29 took off at 4.30 p.m. Sunday from Trabzon airport on the Black Sea, and was escorted by Turkish air force jets to Soviet airspace. The plane had several bullet holes in the side from a shootout Saturday in the Soviet Union.Soviet technicians who arrived early Sunday aboard a Ilyushin transport plane inspected the MiG-29 to ensure its airworthiness, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. The technicians dismantled four air-to-surface missiles on board the MiG-29 and loaded them onto the Ilyushin.
The Soviet Foreign Ministry Saturday demanded the return of the plane and the pilot. Ankara kept good on its promise to return the plane but said the pilot's request for political asylum in the United States was under review.
Soviet air force Capt. Alexander Zuyev, 28, was still recovering in a hospital at the Black Sea city of Trabzon from a bullet wound in the right shoulder. Zuyev said he was shot by Soviet guards early Saturday as he made a dash to the MiG-29 at the air base near Batumi in Soviet Georgia.
Zuyev said two other Soviet air force pilots were to have defected with him but changed their minds at the last moment, after returning from air maneuvers, according to the newspaper Tercum.
"I decided to run away alone. I left them and started walking toward (another) plane. At that moment, they started shooting at me," Zuyev told hospital staff Saturday. The newspaper quoted an unidentified doctor.