Ukraine Air Boss Sacked After Abandoning World's Largest Plane To Russia
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The boss of the company behind the world's largest plane has been sacked after the aircraft was destroyed by Russians in Ukraine.
Antonov Airlines was responsible for the sole completed An-225, which was based at Ukraine's Antonov airport in Hostomel, around 30km from Kyiv.
However the company failed to evacuate the aircraft prior to the Russian invasion, and it was destroyed during fighting on the first day of the war as Russian paratroopers attempted to seize control of the airport.
Now, it appears that someone has paid for the loss of the Antonov's crown jewel, with parent company Ukroboronprom confirming in a statement that General Director of the Antonov State Enterprise Serhiy Bychkov was removed from his position earlier this week amid rumours some of Antonov's top management had links with Russia.
"The reason for the dismissal was an official investigation into verification of certain facts published in the media," Ukroboronprom said, confirming that the company was 'assisting the Security Service of Ukraine in elucidating the events of possible violations'.
German media had previously cited an Antonov pilot who claimed that the An-225 - affectionately named 'Mriya,' the Ukrainian word for dream - was set to be evacuated to Leipzig, Germany. But unlike the rest of the fleet, it never made the journey.
The pilot, coincidentally named Dmytro Antonov, went on to allege that the rescue operation was prevented by management figures who had ties to Russia.
Ukroboronprom Director General Yuriy Husyev denied the claims, stating that the plane was 'under repair' at the time of the invasion, and 'did not have time to leave Ukraine'.
A $3 billion (£2.3bn) crowdfunder to rebuild the Mriya is already underway, however Ukroboronprom has since pledged to make Russia cover the costs.
"Russia has hit the Mriya as a symbol of Ukraine’s aviation capabilities," the company said in a statement. "The occupiers destroyed the airplane, but they won't be able to destroy our common dream.
"Mriya will definitely be reborn. Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukraine's aviation and the air cargo sector.
"Russia has destroyed our 'Mriya,' but the dream of Ukraine to get free from the occupier cannot be destroyed. We will fight for our land and our home until we win."
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Topics: News, Ukraine, Russia, World News