MOSCOW -- A man claiming to have a bomb aboard a discount Turkish airline flight from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov to Istanbul reportedly demanded that the plane divert to Sochi, the southern Russian resort where the Winter Olympic Games officially opened Friday.
News agencies in Istanbul said the man was of Ukrainian nationality and had been subdued after the Pegasus Airlines jet landed at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.
It remained unclear whether the incident was in any way related to Islamic militant threats to attack the Olympic venue to discredit Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made hosting the prestigious Games a top priority.
Chechens, Ingushetis, Dagestanis and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the Northern Caucasus region of Russia have been agitating for an autonomous Islamic state in the region.
But Kharkov is home to few people of Caucasus origin, and the alleged hijacking attempt may have instead been connected to months of unrest between Ukrainians supportive of continued close ties to Russia and those who want the country to forge an economic alliance with the European Union.
CNN Turk reported that the alleged hijacker was in custody and that Turkish authorities were searching the plane.
Istanbul is one of only two European airports with direct flights to Sochi, the other being Frankfurt, Germany.