Around 100 Moscow metro employees have been dismissed after they appeared in an email database leak exposing half a million supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the independent Dozhd broadcaster reported Saturday.
Vasily Shelyakov, the deputy head of the Moscow metro trade union, told Dozhd that the ex-staffers directly link their termination to last month’s leak containing their emails. Navalny’s team had collected the addresses in an online campaign to organize mass nationwide protests and blamed the breach on a rogue employee it suspects of being a Federal Security Service (FSB) recruit.
“Many people who had been fired have bottled everything up and haven’t yet turned to” the union, Shelyakov said, estimating that up to 200 metro staffers may have already been fired.
The list is expected to be updated at a union meeting on Monday, Dozhd reported. The union also hopes to challenge the dismissals with the Moscow metro’s prosecutor’s office, in addition to either class action or individual lawsuits.
Metro employees who have been given the pink slip include drivers, station and escalator attendants and others.
“The dismissals have stopped thanks to media attention, but it’s not for long,” the union said on its website urging former employees to come forward.
The Moscow metro says it employs 60,600 people.
Russian authorities seek to outlaw Navalny’s movement, which has spent years releasing investigations alleging corruption among senior government officials and backing anti-Kremlin election candidates, as “extremist.” The designation would put its members as well as its supporters at risk of jail time.
The mass firings highlight new job security risks for Russians who openly support Navalny following years of expulsions and threats of expulsion for students supporting him.
Navalny, 44, is serving two and a half years in a prison colony for violating parole on old fraud charges during his recovery from a near-fatal poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The Kremlin denies its involvement and questions the claims, voiced by European scientists, that he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in August 2020.