Russian PM Putin cancels officials' holiday after travel chaos

Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin banned Moscow aviation officials from going on holiday in the wake of travel chaos at Moscow's 2 major airports -- PHOTO: AP


MOSCOW, December 30, 2010  (KATAKAMI / THE STRAIT TIMES) – PRIME Minister Vladimir Putin banned Moscow aviation officials on Wednesday from going on their New Year holiday – a Russian national institution – after two of the city’s major airports descended into chaos.

Angry holidaymakers beat up staff of the national carrier Aeroflot at Sheremetyevo airport on Tuesday as thousands were stranded with little food or information, after icy rain and blackouts disrupted traffic for a third day.

‘We had to bring some of our colleagues back from holiday. No holidays from now on. Everyone should stay at work,’ Mr Putin told a government meeting attended by airport and airline executives.

Most Russians take a 10-day holiday from Jan 1 and the country is virtually coming to a standstill during this period.

A blackout also hit Moscow’s biggest airport, Domodedovo, underlining for a second time this year authorities’ inability to handle the consequences of extreme weather.

The slow response from airports administrations and authorities resembled their reaction to a heatwave and deadly forest fires that struck Russia in the summer, denting the popularity of the country’s leadership. —




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