MOSCOW – A top Russian lawmaker on Wednesday resigned from his senior position with the ruling party after claims he held up an Aeroflot flight with abusive and allegedly intoxicated behavior.
Andrei Isayev said he regretted the incident and would resign from his position as deputy secretary of the general council of ruling party United Russia.
The scandal is an embarrassment for United Russia, which once enjoyed unchallenged dominance in Russian politics but has lost its veneer of invincibility in recent years.
The deputy head of Russia’s top social network had earlier claimed that Isayev delayed a flight from St. Petersburg to Moscow with disorderly behavior while heavily intoxicated.
Isayev and an aide were both clearly intoxicated when they boarded the flight of Russia’s flagship carrier, said the deputy head of the VKontakte social network, Ilya Perekopsky, who was on the Tuesday evening flight.
St. Petersburg-based VKontakte, whose founder is Pavel Durov, is by far Russia’s most popular social network, easily outstripping rivals such as Facebook.
Durov has on occasion spoken out with pro-opposition comments, notably over the recent incarceration of Pussy Riot punk rocker Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Isayev denied he was drunk but admitted that aide Alexander Polglazov had been in a state of intoxication and had been cautioned by the police.
Aeroflot said Polglazov had been in a state of “strong alcoholic intoxication” and had been handed over to members of the security forces, while Isayev had left the plane of his own free will.
Spokesman Andrei Sogrin told the state RIA Novosti news agency that according to the crew’s report, Isayev had asked for his aide to be moved into business class and “threatened the crew with the sack.”
Police said Polglazov was given a 100-ruble fine (less than $3).