Kremlin Offers to Subsidize Lease of New Planes

Putin paying his respects at Yaroslavl’s Arena-2000 stadium on Saturday. Denis Sinyakov

The Kremlin proposed to increase fines for flight safety violations and subsidize the lease of new aircraft following last week's Yak-42 crash that killed 43, including most of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team.

Meanwhile, most victims were laid to rest over the weekend, with funerals taking place in their home countries across Eastern Europe. In Yaroslavl, a city of 606,000, a crowd of 100,000 came to the funeral.

The chartered flight hit a navigation beacon on takeoff, falling apart as it struck the ground at Yaroslavl's airport on Wednesday.

Of the 45 people on board, only two, Lokomotiv player Alexander Galimov and flight attendant Alexander Sizov, survived. Both are hospitalized with severe burns in Moscow, and Galimov underwent a trachea transplant Sunday, Interfax said.

The crash brought the Russian death toll from aviation accidents this year to 119, the worst showing worldwide. President Dmitry Medvedev, who visited the crash site on Thursday, pledged to overhaul the country's aviation industry.

On Sunday, Medvedev released a list of reform guidelines for the government, complete with an order for a set of measures on how to shut down airlines that "can't secure passenger safety," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Fines for unsafe flying are to be stepped up, and federal agencies will be ordered to increase scrutiny of airlines and suspend violators — even without a court ruling.

A more unexpected proposal envisages subsidies for airlines that lease passenger aircraft, whether imported or built domestically. Airlines will also be obliged to install costly traffic collision avoidance equipment.

The guidelines do not elaborate on any of the proposals, many of which were voiced by industry experts in recent months to no reaction from the Kremlin. Deadlines for items on Medvedev's list range from Nov. 15 to Feb. 1.

No nationwide suspension of Yak-42 flights was introduced, but the Federal Transportation Inspection Service on Saturday grounded a Yak-42 jet owned by the airline behind the crashed flight, the Moscow-based Yak Service. The jet was to fly from Turkey's Izmir to Moscow, but the watchdog found that a part of its engine was past its lifetime.

In total, five of the country's 57 Yak-42 jets were grounded as of Saturday, the agency said in a statement.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traveled to Yaroslavl on Saturday to pay his respect to the victims, including players of Lokomotiv, one of Russia's top three hockey teams. He made no public speech.

Local authorities said some 100,000 people came to the Arena-2000 stadium, despite unrelenting rain, to lay flowers at the coffins of the 19 dead players from the city.

Four victims remained unidentified pending DNA tests. The rest were not from Yaroslavl and were mourned in other cities, including Minsk, Kiev, Riga and Prague.

Many fellow players, including those from Dinamo Minsk, Dinamo Moscow and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, showed up for the funeral. Lokomotiv, a three-time winner of the Russian championship, had been heading to Minsk to play home side Dinamo in its opening game of the 2011-12 season of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Lokomotiv will miss this season, club president Yury Yakovlev said Saturday. Earlier reports said the club may fill its ranks with former players and volunteers from other teams.

Two possible versions for the crash — an engine malfunction and misplaced wing flaps put in position for landing, not takeoff — were implicitly ruled out by the Interstate Aviation Committee, which said a preliminary examination of the flight recorders showed that all three engines were running until the crash, and the flaps were in the correct position.

The flight recorders also showed that there were no problems with the fuel, earlier rumored to be substandard, the Federal Air Transportation Agency said.

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