MOSCOW, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Foreign Ministry launched a strong protest Friday against Romania's denial of entry to its airspace for a passenger plane with Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin aboard.
According to a foreign ministry statement, the Romanian authorities earlier in the day refused the use of its airspace for a Russian airliner on a regular flight from Moscow to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, citing the plane carried a blacklisted person.
Rogozin with his entourage, among a total of more than 160 passengers, were travelling to meet Moldova's pro-Russian president Igor Dodon.
The Russian senior official is on a list of sanctions imposed by the European Union over Crimea and the deadly conflicts in eastern Ukraine.
The plane was forced to land in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Rogozin said on Twitter, accusing the Romanian entry ban of endangering the lives of the passengers.
"This incident is regarded as a deliberate provocation, which will seriously damage bilateral relations," said the Russian statement.
The foreign ministry demanded the Romanian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and give an explanation.
Romania, a former part of the Soviet-led Warsaw Treaty Organization, is now a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.