Russia buries soldier killed in rescue of warplane pilot
Alexander Pozynich was killed on Tuesday when his Mi-8 helicopter was fired on by rebels and had to make an emergency landing in Syrian neutral territory, the defence ministry said.
Pozynich, 29, a naval marine and contract soldier with 10 years’ experience, was laid to rest in his hometown of Novocherkassk in southern Russia, state television reported.
President Vladimir Putin awarded him the Order of Valour medal posthumously for his role in the operation to retrieve the surviving pilot of the SU-24 plane downed by Turkey on Tuesday.
Around 1,000 people, including Pozynich’s comrades and Cossacks, piled flowers by his coffin as he lay in state in the city’s theatre, before his burial at a military memorial site called the Avenue of Glory.
“In rescuing his comrades, Alexander defended his country, his city and family. He carried out his duty fully,” said the Rostov region’s governor Vasily Golubev.
Pozynich is survived by a widow and two children, Russian media reported.
The others on board the Mi-8 helicopter survived and were evacuated back to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Syria.
Russian and Syrian special forces later managed to rescue the warplane’s second pilot and took him back to the airbase.
The warplane’s other pilot, Oleg Peshkov, was killed by firing from the ground as he ejected. Russia posthumously awarded him its highest honour for valour, Hero of Russia.
Russia state television reported Thursday evening that Peshkov’s body was still in rebel-controlled Syrian territory.