Son of US spy marks 50 years since Soviet capture

Fifty years after his father was shot down by the Soviets in an incident that marked a turning point in the Cold War, Francis Gary Powers Jr on Friday visited the wreckage of his dad`s U-2 spy plane.

Moscow: Fifty years after his father was
shot down by the Soviets in an incident that marked a turning
point in the Cold War, Francis Gary Powers Jr on Friday visited
the wreckage of his dad`s U-2 spy plane.

"It`s a wonderful display," Powers Jr said while
standing in the hall of the Central Armed Forces Museum in
Moscow which holds the wrecked plane and other material
commemorating the so-called "U-2 incident" of May 1, 1960.
On that day, Francis Gary Powers, a US pilot carrying
out a secret mission for the CIA to photograph Soviet nuclear
sites, was shot down near the Urals Mountains city of
Sverdlovsk, now called Yekaterinburg.

Powers parachuted out and was captured by the Soviets,
who later convicted him of espionage and threw him in prison.

In 1962, Powers was released in a US-Soviet spy swap
at the border between East and West Germany, in exchange for
America`s release of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Powers died in
1977.

The U-2 incident was a major embarrassment for the
United States, which had denied carrying out spy flights over
the Soviet Union, and it derailed efforts to make peace
between the two Cold War superpowers.
Russia still considers its shoot-down of the U-2 a
triumph and displays the plane`s wreckage in its main military
museum in Moscow, which also features an expansive World War
II exhibition and trophies seized from Georgian forces during
the Russia-Georgia war of 2008.

Francis Gary Powers Jr, 44, told reporters that he did
not bear any ill will towards present-day Russia, though he
conceded that his father had been an "adversary" of the Soviet
Union.

"I do not feel that I am an enemy to the people in
Russia," said Powers Jr, who was visiting Moscow for a
conference marking the 50th anniversary of the U-2 incident.

"I think Russia and America have very good working
relations. I have been very well treated since I`ve been
here," added Powers, the founder of a museum devoted to Cold
War history in the US state of Virginia.

Nicknamed the "Dragon Lady," the U-2 was a
state-of-the-art plane for its time capable of reaching
altitudes of 21,000 metres.

PTI