Passengers stuck at freezing Siberia airport to await Putin

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
MOSCOW
Published

Passengers were left stranded Wednesday in freezing temperatures on a Russian plane with its doors left open at a Siberian airport where President Vladimir Putin was due to land.

People on the Moscow-bound plane complained on social media that Yemelyanovo airport in Krasnoyarsk was shut down ahead of the arrival of Putin's plane, leaving them stuck on the aircraft for almost two hours in temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Russian provincial authorities often go out of their way in preparations for a Putin visit.

Local media reported that the authorities in heavily polluted Krasnoyarsk had ordered factories to reduce emissions in order to clear the smog over the city ahead of Putin's visit.

At Yemelyanovo, airport workers were reportedly barred from going onto the runway and were unable to remove the stairs leading up to the plane, meaning the door was left open.

"They said the airport is closed because Putin is landing. They closed the runway for airport workers and they could not remove the steps to shut the plane's door!" one passenger, Grigory Skarchenko, wrote on Facebook.

"They made us close the window (blinds) from the left side of the plane. We're cold!" another passenger, Maria Bystrova, wrote on Twitter.

"Is it for Putin's security or is it unpleasant for him to see us? Judging by the conditions, it's the latter."

Putin, who is widely expected to win a historic fourth term in a presidential election next month, was in Krasnoyarsk to meet local business leaders and take part in talks on holding an international student athletics competition in the city.

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