Russian court handed down suspended sentence to major of air unit involved in war

The Garrison Military Court in Kaluga sentenced Alexei Skvortsov, deputy squadron commander of the 52nd Guards Air Regiment, to a suspended sentence for violating flight preparation rules. He was found guilty of the March 2021 crash at a long-range aviation airfield. Three members of his crew died then. Kommersant writes about the court decision.
The crash occurred during the practice of emergency takeoff at the airfield Shaykovka in the Kaluga region. Three members of the crew of the Tu-22M3 long-range bomber Skvortsov were catapulted from the plane standing on the ground. The parachutes did not have time to open, the officers died. The victims were the unit commander, instructor navigator and regimental navigator, with the ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, respectively.
The court found that the cause was the actions of Skvortsov, who energized the ejection system. For this he was sentenced to three years of suspended imprisonment. In the same case, the technician Igor Aristov, who inspected the aircraft before the planned flight, received a two and a half year suspended sentence.
According to “Kommersant”, Skvortsov and Aristov appealed the court decision. They are sure that the cause of the crash was a technical malfunction. The commander of Tu-22 had an opportunity to evacuate the crew by force but the seal had to be taken off the ejection switch. Aristov claims that the switch was sealed before the flight. Skvortsov – that he noticed that the seal was torn, but did not pay attention to it.
The 52nd Air Regiment is involved in the war in Ukraine, its pilots have been accused by the Ukrainian side of attacking civilian objects, for example a residential building in Dnipro in January 2023 (Moscow denies deliberate attacks on civilian targets). The Shaykovka airfield was attacked at least twice by drones, apparently belonging to Ukraine.
In October, Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbaliuk claimed, without citing sources, that Skvortsov was involved in combat sorties. The military man’s sentence has not entered into legal force, an appeal will be considered by the 2nd Western District Military Court in Moscow.
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