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PUTIN  DEATH OF RUSSIANSRussian President Vladimir Putin’s halt on flights to Egypt from Russia will affect tens of thousands of Russians and is expected to devastate Egyptian tourism.

Russian officials and tourism experts say there’s about 30,000 to 40,000 Russians now in Egypt.

Tourist flights to Egypt leave daily from many Russian cities. There were 14 Egypt-bound flights Friday from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and another eight flights to Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

The Egyptian economy is deeply dependent on tourism, and the industry was hurting even before the Metrojet crash Saturday that killed 224 people.

Egypt’s Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou said in September that tourism at Red Sea beach resorts was rebounding after years of turmoil following the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, but otherwise “tourism is suffering tremendously” in Egypt.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says the Russian leader’s order to suspend all flights to Egypt does not mean that Russia now views terrorism as the main theory behind the Metrojet plane crash.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday “it definitely doesn’t mean that. Not a single theory can be given priority, since there aren’t any definite indications to prove it.”

Peskov says the flight suspension will last as long as it takes Egyptian aviation authorities to put “a proper level of security” into place.

A Metrojet flight carrying mostly Russian tourists crashed over the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 on board. U.S. and British officials fear a bomb might have blown up the plane in midair.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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