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Aviation Center's Unpaid Bills Left Russia Chief Up in the Air

February 12, 1994|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Angry over unpaid bills, a state-owned electric company cut off power to a Russian aviation control center while dozens of planes were in the air--including President Boris N. Yeltsin's, Izvestia reported Friday.

The daily newspaper said Yeltsin was unaware of the danger when the Strela Control Center, one of the country's main civil aviation tracking facilities, was forced to shut down Dec. 7. It was not immediately known how long the system was down.

No planes crashed, and Yeltsin's Il-86 presidential jet completed its flight to Moscow from the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia. But the incident highlights the impact of economic disarray on public safety in Russia.

The control center, in the city of Rostov-on-Don, was given only one hour's warning before its electricity was cut off, Izvestia said in its front-page article. It was the first public disclosure of the incident two months ago.

Izvestia said Russian air traffic controllers recently caused a near-collision of two British and Japanese Boeing 747s carrying a total of about 800 passengers through the busy Khabarovsk air corridor in the Russian Far East.

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