MOSCOW — LGBT activists in Russia are planning a campaign to boycott the Russian airline Aeroflot following a report that a gay flight attendant was forced by the airline to enter into a heterosexual marriage or face losing his job.
According to a report by GayRussia.ru, internal sources at Aeroflot confirmed that 25-year-old flight attendant Maxim Kupreev was given the ultimatum late last year after he announced plans to establish an LGBT group within the airline in order to protect the rights of gay and lesbian employees.
At the end of 2011, Kupreev married his school friend Sofia Mikhailova so he could retain his job at Aeroflot. Mikhailova, in turn, received the right to fly Aeroflot for 10 percent of the fare – and other company privileges.
The boycott is set to be launched on Feb. 9 February at a rally outside the corporate offices of Aeroflot in Moscow, and activists said they will call upon air travelers to “condemn the discriminatory policies” of Aeroflot, and reject the airline until it creates equal conditions for LGBT workers.
According to one of the organizers, Nikolai Alekseev, Founder of Moscow Pride, “We have devised a series of slogans on the double meaning of the term ‘marriage,’ which we intend to convey to the public in the context of Aeroflot.”
Alexeyev said that the boycott will be launched “on a very symbolic day — February 9th is the birthday not only of Russian civil aviation, but the main carrier of the country, Aeroflot. It’s the perfect day to draw attention to their discriminatory policies.”
Protestors said they also plan for the exclusion of Aeroflot from the global airline alliance “Sky Team,” of which leading members include U.S.-based Delta Airlines, and European carrier Air France.