KYIV, March 10 (Reuters) – Ukraine handed suspicion notices on Friday to three former top managers of aircraft manufacturer Antonov for obstructing the country’s military and allowing Russia to destroy the iconic giant “Mriya” cargo plane at the start of the full-scale war.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the SBU security service said the former officials prevented the Ukrainian National Guard from building fortifications at a key airport on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in January to February last year as the threat of Russia’s full-scale invasion loomed.
The SBU and prosecutors said in statements that two of the suspects were detained and the former general director of Antonov was declared a wanted person. The suspects, who were not named, could face up to 15 years in prison.
A notice of suspicion indicates to the recipient that they are a person under investigation by law enforcement.
Antonov Airport in Hostomel, an international cargo terminal with a long runway built to handle the world’s largest cargo plane the Antonov An-225 – or “Mriya” – was a key target of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned assault on Kyiv.
The Ukrainian-made “Mriya”, which is Ukrainian for “dream”, weighs some 705 tonnes and has a wingspan of 290 feet.
It was destroyed as Russian forces fought to seize the airport in late February, 2022, in a major symbolic blow to Ukraine as it sought to prevent Kyiv falling. The Russian military held the area for several weeks before Ukrainian armed forces claimed it back.
“We are conducting a fair investigation of this case. Those who … helped the enemy destroy one of Ukraine’s symbols should receive an appropriate punishment,” Vasyl Malyuk, head of the SBU security service said in a statement.
The cargo plane was originally built in the late 1980s to transport a Soviet space shuttle.
“Our state will definitely build a new plane, because the Dream, like Ukraine, cannot be destroyed,” Malyuk said.