Putin bans holiday for 'whining' travel officials
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday rebuked officials after bad weather brought air traffic in Moscow to a virtual standstill, telling them to forget about New Year holidays and stop whining.
The tough-talking prime minister said all the officials in charge of transportation and relevant matters were banned from going on New Year's holidays until the situation gets back to normal.
"Instead of proceeding with New Year's celebrations, everyone who is in charge of the situation should have been present on the job from the very beginning," Putin told a government meeting in televised remarks.
"There is no need to whine -- everyone needs to work," he said.
"Entire settlements remain without power, the situation is difficult on the roads and thousands of people are stranded in airports."
A bout of icy weather and freezing rain wreaked havoc in Moscow over the past days, disrupting holiday plans of thousands of air travellers in Moscow.
Scuffles broke out Tuesday at Moscow's two main airports - Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo -- as exasperated passengers threatened to sue airlines including Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot.
Officials said the situation was getting back to normal Wednesday as flights were beginning to take off in accordance with the schedule.
President Dmitry Medvedev has earlier instructed his chief prosecutor to look into the matter.
© 2010 AFP