Europe

Russia PM Putin scolds transport officials amid freeze

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with cabinet, 29 Dec 10
Image caption Looking grim-faced, Mr Putin called for more work and less whining

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to work over the New Year holiday so that Moscow's struggling airports get back to normal.

Mr Putin castigated government officials at a televised meeting, pointing to transport chaos and power cuts triggered by icy weather.

More than 8,000 people got stuck at Moscow's Domodedovo airport because they had not been warned, he said.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports.

"There will be no holidays until a special order is given. Everyone must be at work," he told cabinet ministers and regional governors.

"The situation is difficult, but thankfully not catastrophic, and our task is to make sure it does not escalate to catastrophic levels," he said.

Stranded passengers

Scuffles broke out at Sheremetyevo this week as desperate passengers raged at airport staff.

Freezing rain at the weekend led to many flight cancellations and Domodedovo suffered a power blackout. The national carrier Aeroflot was hit by a shortage of de-icing fluid.

President Dmitry Medvedev told prosecutors to investigate the delays.

Omon elite police were deployed at both airports following chaotic scenes on Monday.

"There is no need to whine. Everyone must work," Mr Putin said on Wednesday.

"Entire villages remain without power, the situation is also difficult on the roads, and thousands of people are stranded in airports."

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