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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airport Chief Reinstated, Fired Again


MT

Sergei Belyayev

The board of directors of Sheremetyevo, the nation's largest airport, fired former general director Sergei Belyayev for the second time Friday, a day after a local court ordered him reinstated.

Belyayev had asked a municipal court to overturn his November sacking because he was on sick leave when it occurred, which the court upheld.

The airport's board, which is composed of federal government officials and headed by Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, originally decided to fire Belyayev after "getting acquainted with the airport's financial and operational activities," Sheremetyevo's press service said at the time.

The board cited his abuse of power and lack of progress on building a long-awaited third terminal that officials say is badly needed to relieve congestion at the overcrowded airport.

Belyayev, who has linked his dismissal to his uncovering corruption at the airport, is accused of using funds earmarked for new buses to buy more than 50 new foreign cars for top managers during his 11-month tenure. He is also accused of granting top managers housing subsidies, unnecessarily swelling the airport's payroll with 350 new workers and failing to adequately prepare for the winter season.

Yevgeny Bakhteyev, a former deputy of Belyayev who was fired earlier last year for abuse of power, was appointed acting general director by the board Friday.

At the time, Belyayev's management team called Bakhteyev's sacking a move to clean up the business environment in and around the airport, which they said had gotten out of hand, hurting revenues.

Vladimir Dorokhin, then first deputy general director in charge of Sheremetyevo's finances, said a great deal of money had been brought out into the open despite the resistance of the old management team under Belyayev's predecessor.

Under Belyayev, the antiquated airport, which has long been derided by the foreign business community, made little progress on upgrading the international terminal, Sheremetyevo-2, which would have increased capacity by some 30 percent. One of the few changes implemented under his tenure was the introduction of free baggage carts.

But the biggest problem as far as the government was concerned appears to be the lack of progress on a new terminal, which caused the most amount of friction between Belyayev and Gref. Belyayev insisted that Sheremetyevo control the new terminal, while Gref insisted that the job should go to a Western specialist.

Another point of contention was Belyayev's decision to open a representative office in St. Petersburg without the board's approval, the board's secretary, Andrei Bubnov, said Friday. He added that the move is the subject of a criminal probe that was opened Jan. 4.

Belyayev was abroad and unavailable for comment Friday, according to his spokeswoman, Galina Kireyeva.

She said he may challenge his dismissal in court again, though she declined to comment on the criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, the fate of Sheremetyevo-3 is still up in the air, and Bubnov said he did not know when the board would next consider the issue.

Transportation Minister Sergei Frank said late last year that the new terminal will be launched before the end of 2005.