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Sheremetyevo Airport Trade Union Activists Arrested

A Moscow court has ordered the arrest of an activist of the Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel who was caught in a large-scale fraud case, linked to Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot.

Valery Pimosheko will remain in custody for two months until Dec. 19, Russian legal news agency RAPSI reported. He faces up to 10 years in jail for "attempted theft" of Aeroflot's property by deception.

The activist and the executive director of the Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel, Alexei Shlyapnikov, were detained Saturday as they allegedly received 10 million rubles ($314,000) in exchange for their assistance in resolving the airline's wage disputes with the pilots.

The suspects have demanded a total of 100 million rubles ($3 million) from Aeroflot's flight director for settling the dispute over compensating crew members for harmful and dangerous work conditions, as well as night work bonuses.

The union has said that there were numerous cases when pilots' vacations were long overdue, which led to fatigue, and because of a lack of pilots, the flight schedule got hectic at times and pilots were called for work at short notice. Pimoshenko, a former pilot, was fired earlier by Aeroflot for enlisting a third pilot on a long haul flight, which went against current airline regulations.

Aeroflot has been ordered to compensate a total of 1,200 employees by a Moscow court. The total payment of compensation, which was set to begin last month, could amount to 1 billion rubles ($31 million).

The Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel comprises more than 850 pilots, flight engineers and aircraft navigators from Aeroflot and more than 1,000 retired personnel.

Material from The Moscow Times was used in this report.

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