Russian government plane makes quick flight to Belarus and back: tracking data

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian government plane used to carry senior government officials, including the head of the FSB security service, has made a quick flight to Belarus and back, landing in Moscow in the early hours of Wednesday, flight tracking data shows.

The flight comes as Belarus, a close Russian ally, is mired in a political crisis with protesters angry over what they say was a rigged presidential election on Aug. 9.

They have been calling on veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko to step down. He has refused, saying they are part of a foreign-backed plot to destabilise the country.

Tracking data showed the plane, a Tupolev Tu-214 which is also a command and control centre, flew to Minsk from Moscow on Tuesday before landing back in Moscow in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Attention is firmly focused on how Russia will respond to the biggest political crisis facing an ex-Soviet neighbour since 2014 in Ukraine, when Moscow intervened militarily after a friendly leader was toppled by public protests.

Reporting by Rinat Sagdiev; Editing by Andrew Osborn