U.S. senators detained at Russian airport
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U.S. senators detained at Russian airport

UPI | August 29 2005

PERM, Russia, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Two U.S. senators were detained for three hours at a Russian airport as they were trying to leave the country after visiting nuclear weapons-related facilities.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and their delegation were detained Sunday at the airport of the Urals city of Perm, after border guards demanded to inspect the group's military DC-9 jet and U.S. officials refused, The Moscow Times reported Monday.

A reporter from the Chicago Tribune, traveling with the delegation, reported that Ken Myers, a senior Senate staff member in the delegation, told Russian officials, "We don't search Russian airplanes in the U.S. You will not search U.S. planes in Russia."

Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama and 10 staff members were initially locked in an airport lounge until they surrendered their passports, the Tribune said.

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador William Burns helped arrange the flight's departure.

The delegation had arrived in Moscow Friday for meetings with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Burns. The group then visited a nuclear warhead storage site in Saratov Saturday and a missile disposal site in Perm Sunday as part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program

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