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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: … Naturally, a thorough investigation must be conducted as usual, both a technical and a legal one, because these are usually two separate investigations. There are procedures that need to be followed and it is essential not to forestall them under any circumstances, although today most experts and officials in charge are naming the human factor as the main cause [of the crash].
You were talking about our aircraft just now, including the Tu-134 that has crashed. First, as far as I know, a large number of them are in operation. The Transport Minister [Igor Levitin] reported to me on this matter yesterday. Some of those aircraft that are owned by certain airlines may not be in use. Nevertheless, officially they have not been decommissioned. This is the first point.
Second, despite the fact that the most likely cause was the crew’s error, it must still be determined beyond any doubt and we must not draw any early conclusions. This is just an assumption at present.
However, I have instructed the Transport Minister to prepare an early decommissioning of the Tu-134 aircraft. This is not just because of the latest plane crash but simply because this step is overdue. In any case, I believe that in the short term, per my directive, they will analyse the issue of banning these planes on scheduled flights.
They should weigh up all the options. I am sure you understand that two points are most important in this matter. First comes safety, which is vital. Second, the issue of the air fleet. I think if we talk about regular scheduled flights, we should probably make sure the Tu-134 planes do not fly at all as of next year.
With regard to charter flights, the situation is slightly different and it has its own rules. That is the gist of my instructions to the Transport Minister yesterday, and I hope they will make a decision and report back to me in the near future.