Alexander Akopov made the headlines as a "hero" pilot at Atlasglobal, a private Turkish carrier, when he skilfully landed an airplane at an Istanbul airport in the middle of an intense hail storm last week.
However, he found himself in another storm in the aftermath of the action that saved the lives of 121 passengers. Shortly after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced he would award the experienced pilot with a medal of courage, Ukrainian social media users dug into Akopov's past and found he was "pro-Russian."
Amid the heavy criticism Akopov faces for his posts of photos of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia has extended a hand to him. In a Facebook post on the Russian Foreign Ministry's official account, the pilot was invited to Russia if he faces criticism at home."What you've done is not about politics. We thank you for your professional behavior," the social media post says.
In response to criticism, Akopov, quoted by Doğan News Agency, has said the posts were from times before a pro-Russian separatist campaign started in eastern Ukraine.