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Näin Venäjällä

Malmin Ilmailukerho ry Forums Keskustelu Näin Venäjällä

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      Jyri Virmalainen

      Ajattelin, että tämä suht ajankohtainen aihe voisi kiinnostaa tämän palstan lukijoita:


      In 2017, hundreds of Russian civilian pilots lost their licenses. That year, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, better known as Rosaviatsiya, closed down the country’s private aviation schools and annulled their graduates’ certificates, leaving them unable to pursue employment in their field. Many of the pilots affected had spent months of their lives and millions of rubles to get their licenses. In 2018, the pilots challenged Rosaviatsiya’s decision in court, but they lost their case. Meduza spoke with pilots who found themselves grounded two years ago about how they get by now. Some found jobs as taxi drivers or construction workers, and others found a way to return to their chosen profession.

      Pavel Semchenko

      31, Be’er Sheva, Israel

      Pavel Semchenko’s private archive

      It was an IL-86. I was flying with my mom from Khabarovsk to Yekaterinburg to see my grandmother. During the flight, I was walking around the plane with the other kids, and at some point, we saw that the door to the cockpit was open. In the 1990s, that was normal. The pilots noticed that we were interested, and they invited us in to see what was going on. That’s probably when something happened inside me.

      There were no flight schools in Khabarovsk, so I went to a technical college and chose a major in information technology. I had a good job with a good salary. Maybe that’s why my family didn’t approve of my idea to change careers. It does take a lot of money that you could spend on fur coats or cars. Nonetheless, I received a private pilot’s certification in 2014 from the Far East Preparation Center for Aviation Personnel. Two months later, my wife and I divorced.

      In February of 2016, I graduated from ChelAvia and tried to find work. But everyone told me they didn’t have any openings, and I only got an interview at the Pobeda airline, which I passed on my first try. In the end, though, I didn’t manage to find work. People openly told me that Rosaviatsiya had recommended against hiring us because our licenses were about to be annulled. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that such a thing could happen under the rule of law.

      But in July of 2017, they actually took away my license. I got a group of pilots together so that it could be a collective lawsuit, and we sued Rosaviatsiya. We lost. We appealed and lost again. I had always believed in the law; it was a measure of fairness for me. Now, I think of Russian jurisdiction as a show. To me, it doesn’t exist.

      Even before the hearings started, my second wife and I decided that we would leave Russia if we lost. What are we doing here if there’s no truth? Just hanging our heads? That’s not how I was raised. Our own motherland doesn’t need us, it throws us out like industrial waste, takes away our right to work. Maybe we’d come in handy for another country. I do have two in-demand professions, after all. We got our documents together and moved to Israel in 2018 [through the country’s formal repatriation program].

      I couldn’t wait for the plane to land. I’m not saying Israel is an ideal country. They have problems, there’s a military conflict on the border and rockets flying into Israel. But it’s a lawful state where the rule of law actually works. I feel comfortable there, and I can do what I want to do.

      After we became citizens, the government began paying us up to 7,000 shekels (almost $2,000) monthly for half a year. My wife and I took free Hebrew courses. Our kids are set up in good schools, and they go to youth groups after class. On top of all that, I graduated from a free professional course in cybersecurity. That gives me the right to work in Israel in a high-demand field.

      After that, I flew to the U.S. to study in a private flight school in Florida. I’ll graduate here, get an American pilot’s license, and let Rosaviatsiya take its funny money wherever it wants. Studying to be a commercial pilot in my school costs $20,000 – $25,000 for Russian pilots. Starting from scratch costs around $60,000.

      There are a lot of our guys here. People don’t trust their future to the Russian Federation. They’re afraid of the risks. They come here while they have money and get licenses that will be recognized internationally, so Rosaviatsiya won’t be able to take them away. More and more pilots are going to leave Russia, and no one can stop that process. When a pipe breaks, it starts out dripping, but then it floods the room before long.

      I’ve been studying in an American flight school for about three months. There are five private schools here for one small airport with two runways. We don’t have that many in all of Russia. My instructor said something like Americans were the first to reach the moon because they’re awesome. Of course, I reminded him about Gagarin, but I thought to myself, “What else can I be proud of, what has contemporary Russian aviation accomplished?” There’s nothing for me to say. I’m ashamed.

      After I graduate in the U.S., I’ll go back to Israel and try to find work either as a pilot or in high tech. I don’t plan to go back to Russia. We emigrated, and that’s our final word. We tried to fight, but if the government doesn’t come to terms with its own laws, I won’t negotiate with it.


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