Updated story: The small group of protestors who unveiled a 20-metre wide banner at the end of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport runway today have now been arrested after taking their campaign into the terminal.
Once inside the demonstrators called for a boycott of not only Aeroflot, but its codeshare partners within the SkyTeam group, including Air France, KLM and US carrier Delta – because of the Russian airline’s anti-gay staffing practices.
They are angry about Aeroflot forcing a gay flight attendant Maxim Kupreev to marry after he tried to start a gay staff group in the airline. In an article in the leading Russian tabloid, MK, today the company has claimed an LGBT staff group is not needed as it has no gay employees.
As GSN reported earlier, they started their day of protest (9 February) by unveiling their banner at the end of the runway so passengers could see it as they came in to land.
In the terminal they called for the airline to be boycotted. They have also demanded a public apology by Aeroflot to its gay flight attendant Kupreev and that the airline set-up an LGBT employee group.
Other airlines in the SkyTeam group were asked to distance themselves from the action of Aeroflot in its insistence that Kupreev got married, or get fired.
One of the placards they had at Sheremetyevo Airport read: ‘Sensation! A pill against homosexuality is found! Aeroflot!’
Another demanded a ‘divorce’ of Aeroflot and SkyTeam: ‘Aeroflot – Sky Team. Sham marriage. Gays demand divorce’, it read.
Then at 5.05pm Moscow time the four protestors, who had been mingling with often bemused passengers in the terminal, were arrested.
In an SMS message, protester Nikolai Alekseev said: '15 minutes into our action in the terminal, the four of us have been arrested. The police did not know what to do.'
The four are Alekseev, Kirill Nepomnyashchiy, Alexey Kiselev and Alexander Hots.