COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The son of a Russian businessman close to President Vladimir Putin has been acquitted in Norway of violating a law banning drone flights by Russians.
Andrei Yakunin, who lives in Italy and holds both Russian and British passports, was arrested at Hammerfest in Arctic Norway on October 17. He was arrested after sailing along the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and the Norwegian coast.
When he left Svalbard, he took charge of two of his drones, which were used several times to fly over an archipelago located more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of mainland Norway. In some cases, he piloted them himself, the court said.
Yakunin, 47, has been filming with a drone while climbing, glacier walks, and sailing.
Norwegian law prohibits aircraft operated by Russian companies or citizens from “landing on, taking off from or flying over Norwegian territory”. Norway is not a member of the European Union, but mirrors the move by the European Union, deciding to ban earlier this year after Ukraine’s invasion.
Nord-Troms and Senja District Court said late Wednesday that hobby drone flights are not covered by sanctions rules.
“It is not at all surprising, although very gratifying, that the district court has concluded that Andrei Yakunin has committed no crimes in Norway,” said his lawyers, John Christian Elden and Bernd Heiberg said in a statement.
The prosecution, which demanded 120 days in prison for Yakunin, appealed.
Yakunin, the son of Russian businessman Vladimir Yakunin, a longtime acquaintance of President Putin, was placed on the US State Department’s sanctions list of Russian officials and businessmen after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Numerous drone sightings have been reported near offshore oil and gas platforms owned by NATO member Norway, a major oil and gas producer. Several Russian citizens have been detained for flying drones and taking photos of key locations in Norway.
https://wgnradio.com/news/international/ap-norway-acquits-putin-allys-son-who-flew-drone/ Norway acquits Putin’s son for flying drone | Norway WGN Radio 720