Drunk Snow Plow Driver Crashes with Airplane at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport
What happens when you get drunk and kill Putin’s friend with your snow plow?
Total CEO’s jet crashed on take-off in Moscow with Vladimir Martynenko, the unlucky guy who happened to drive his snowplow across the runway as Total CEO Christophe de Margerie’s executive jet was preparing to take off from the VIP terminal at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport last night. Three French crew members also died when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after it hit the snow plow during takeoff from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 11:57 p.m. Monday local time. The Vnukovo airport is used by Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and visiting foreign leaders. Video from the scene showed the charred plane lying on a grassy field. Though it had snowed earlier in the day, it was unclear how much snow remained at the airport at the time of the crash. De Margerie, 63, was a regular fixture at international economic gatherings and one of the French business community’s most outspoken and recognizable figures. His trademark silver handlebar earned him the nickname “Big Mustache.” Laurence Parisot, a friend of de Margerie’s and the former head of France’s business lobby Medef, called him an “immense Frenchman” with “a love of life, laughter and the pleasures of the table.” Under his leadership, Paris-based Total claims it became the fifth-largest publicly traded integrated international oil and gas company in the world, with exploration and production operations in more than 50 countries.
The Real Downer – Killing Putin’s Friend
But the real downer would be that you had just killed one of the closest and most influential friends of an authoritarian President with well-documented anger management problems and roots in one of the most brutal organizations ever to have graced the planet. That last consideration, I’m thinking, would probably be the one that occupied your thoughts the most while you sat out 48 hours of detention before seeing the magistrate.
It’s difficult to imagine the next CEO of Total being as effective an advocate for Russia as de Margerie. He (or she) won’t have the same personal attachment to the big-money bets on gas producer Novatek (now under sanctions) and the vast Yamal LNG project. Nor will he have same political capital at home to spend on flouting public and political opinion (de Margerie always went the extra mile for Russia, even meeting ex-defense minister Sergei Naryshkin in Paris recently when the latter managed to slip past an E.U. visa ban on him).
What about the drunk snow plow driver?
The driver of the snowplow, Vladimir Martynenko, is at the center of the investigation following allegations, denied by his lawyer, that he was drunk. “At the current time, it has been established that the driver of the snowplow was in a state of alcoholic intoxication,” Tatyana Morozova, an official with the Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency. As well as questioning the driver of the snowplow, the committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin said the role of air traffic controllers in the incident is being assessed.
“We lost a true friend of our country,” Putin said
Killed by a drunk snow plow driver, possibly with the connivance of drunk air traffic controllers: a painfully Russian end for the man Putin referred to as “A true friend to our country.”