Moscow's metro sacks staff with anti-Kremlin views -union

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a placard depicting Alexei Navalny and reading "Freedom for Navalny!" during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia January 23, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Moscow's metro service has fired more than 40 people, many of whom believe they were sacked for their anti-Kremlin views or for registering support for jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny, a trade union head said on Friday.

Police have cracked down hard on supporters of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken opponent, after they staged several nationwide protests this year to demand his release from jail.

Some have been prosecuted for flouting coronavirus restrictions and put under house arrest, and several of Navalny's most prominent allies have left the country. Mass sackings of his supporters have not been reported, however.

Nikolai Gostev told Reuters that the Moscow metro's independent trade union, which he heads, had been approached by 40 staff, most of them train drivers who had been told to quit.

Those who declined to do so were sacked for invented infractions, he said. He added it was not fully clear why the outgoing staff had been specifically targeted.

"Many of them think they were sacked because of (their) opposition views: some were registered on Navalny's website, some on Meduza's website and so on," he said, referring to a popular online news site Russia has labelled "foreign agent" media.

Moscow's metro did not reply to a request to comment.

"There are clearly more fired (people) - we can speak only for those who were fired for infractions and for those who appealed to us," he said.

He added that the sackings could hinder the metro functioning well.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Angus MacSwan)

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