|Mathias Rust landing at Red Square in 1987 (click to enlarge)|
Around 7:00 p.m. Rust appeared above downtown Moscow. He had initially intended to land in the Kremlin, but changed his mind: he reasoned that landing inside, hidden by the Kremlin walls, would have allowed the KGB to simply arrest him and deny the incident. Therefore, he changed his landing spot to Red Square. Heavy pedestrian traffic did not allow him to land there either, so after circling about the square one more time, he was able to land on a bridge by St. Basil’s Cathedral. After taxiing past the cathedral he stopped about 100 metres (330 ft) from the square, where he was greeted by curious passersby and was asked for autographs. When asked where he was from, he replied “Germany” making the bystanders think he was from East Germany; but when he said West Germany, they were surprised.Rust was released early and went on to live an eccentric life. In 1989 he fell in love with a West German nurse, only to land in jail again when he stabbed her when she rejected his advances. He was released after 15 months, converted to Hinduism and was engaged to the daughter of an Indian tea merchant. He got in trouble with the law again in 2001 and 2005. Currently he claims he is an advisor for an Swiss investment bank and is still a peace activist of sorts.
Rust was arrested two hours later. He was charged with several violations, the most serious being that he had illegally entered Soviet airspace. Rust argued that he was merely trying to promote world peace. He carried with him copies of a plan he had developed for a worldwide democracy, which he referred to as “Iagonia”. Rust’s trial began in Moscow on 2 September 1987. He was sentenced to four years in a general-regime labor camp for hooliganism, for disregard of aviation laws, and for breaching the Soviet border.