CEO of French oil giant Total dies in jet crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport

The CEO of France’s oil and gas giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was among four people killed in a business jet crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snowplow on take-off.

Total’s chairman and CEO was the only passenger in the Falcon 50 business jet besides three crewmembers who were also French citizens.

“Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died just after 10pm (Paris time) on October 20 in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” the company said in a statement. Continue reading

Russia ‘printing money for Syria’ claims report

Russia is printing bank notes and sending them by the plane load to Syria to help the besieged regime pay its soldiers and civil servants, a new report suggests.

Flight records obtained by the investigative website ProPublica showed that at least 120 and up to 240 tons of bank notes were delivered during a ten-week period between July and September.

On eight round-trip trips between Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and Damascus international airport, the “Type of Cargo” is listed as “Bank – Notes (30 Ton)”. Neither their denomination nor value was specified however.

Seven of the eight Syria Air flights were confirmed through international plane-tracking services, photographs from amateur plane-spotters and official air traffic control records.

Each manifest detailed a circuitous route over Iran and Iraq, countries that are friendly to the Syrian regime, rather than the most direct route over Turkey, which has become a foe of President Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading