The 'Putin apologist' rail union boss who criticised NATO's anti-war efforts in Ukraine


A high-ranking member of the union which hit the capital with crippling strikes this week has been accused of harbouring long-standing sympathies for pro-Putin separatists.

Eddie Dempsey, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union’s assistant general secretary, shared glowing praise for Luhansk rebel Aleksey Mozgovoy in an obituary following his death in 2015.

Dempsey even visited the Donbas region of Ukraine seven years ago, where he posed for a picture with the pro-Russian separatist commander. 

Writing in far-right Russia Insider, Dempsey lavished praise on the ‘charismatic’ Mozgovoy, described the violent Luhansk separatists as communist ‘volunteers’, and brandished the West’s efforts to broker peace in the region as a ‘US-orchestrated coup’. 

Labour MP Chris Bryant last night urged Dempsey to apologise for his prior support for Mozgovoy. 

Dempsey, who pockets a total package worth £108,549 from the RMT, was also among the signatories of a Stop the War coalition statement last week that criticised NATO’s ‘disdain for Russian concerns’.

The statement caused a huge split within the Labour Party after 11 of its MPs backed it, before withdrawing their support after an intervention from Sir Keir Starmer. 

Left-wing parliamentarians who backed the statement were reportedly threatened with losing the whip, with one Labour frontbencher slamming the Stop the War Coalition as ‘Putin apologists’, reports the Telegraph.  

Eddie Dempsey, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union's assistant general secretary, shared glowing praise for misogynistic Luhansk rebel Aleksey Mozgovoy in an obituary following his death in 2015

Eddie Dempsey, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union’s assistant general secretary, shared glowing praise for misogynistic Luhansk rebel Aleksey Mozgovoy in an obituary following his death in 2015 

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group described former separatist warlord Mozgovoy as a 'criminal who killed a family for money'. He died in an ambush in May 2015

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group described former separatist warlord Mozgovoy as a ‘criminal who killed a family for money’. He died in an ambush in May 2015

Aleksey Mozgovoy was criticised by human rights groups for being the judge who handed out ‘death sentences’ after sham trials. 

His support for ‘people’s courts’ became so controversial that on one occasion he led a session that called for a death sentence for one defendant based on a show of hands from the public gallery.  

Mozgovoy was born in eastern Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, and had long planned to see the pro-Russian ‘republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk become independent of Ukraine.  

The ‘Ghost Brigade’ of 3,000 troops that he once led have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the east for more than eight years. 

As journalists warned of his ‘misogyny’ and human rights group recalled his ‘criminal’ actions, Mozgovoy was dubbed a ‘charismatic, anti-fascist militia leader’ by Dempsey.

The pair had met two weeks before Mozgovoy’s death in May 2015 in what was described as an international humanitarian convoy. 

Dempsey described the Ghost Brigade as ‘volunteers who’ve been resisting the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation of the US/EU-backed Kiev junta’, and said Mozgovoy’s comrades would ‘continue their late commander’s struggle’ for ‘peace and justice.’

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group described the former separatist commander as a ‘criminal who killed a family for money’. He died in an ambush in May 2015.  

Writing in far-right Russia Insider, Dempsey (pictured in February) lavished praise on the 'charismatic' Mozgovoy, described the violent Luhansk separatists as communist 'volunteers', and brandished the West's efforts to broker peace in the region as a 'US-orchestrated coup'

Writing in far-right Russia Insider, Dempsey (pictured in February) lavished praise on the ‘charismatic’ Mozgovoy, described the violent Luhansk separatists as communist ‘volunteers’, and brandished the West’s efforts to broker peace in the region as a ‘US-orchestrated coup’

In 2014, Mozgovoy said he had ordered his patrols to arrest any woman sitting in a pub or cafe, because ‘a woman must be the guardian of the hearth, a mother. But what kind of mothers are they after going to pubs? 

‘If you want to remain an honest person and devoted to your husband, stay at home and do embroidery. All the pubs are full of the female population. 

‘Are they all prostitutes, or what?’  

Mozgovoy was also linked to the horrific murder of a family in May 2014 in return for cash, in which a 10-year-old girl was left with life-changing injuries as her parents’ car was shot at because separatists said it was a convoy of Ukrainian soldiers. 

In 2020, a court found that he had planned and ordered the ambush and murder of the family.

The Telegraph reported Labour MP Chris Bryant said: ‘Sometimes people who no doubt think they have the best intentions and the warmest hearts can be the most dangerous people in the room. Naivety is one thing, but reckless naivety is another.

‘The writing has been on the wall in relation to Putin and his territorial ambitions for more than a decade now, and anybody who has not been able to see that should step aside from the political arena. He should apologise – and be ashamed of himself.’

An RMT spokesman told The Telegraph: ‘The union does not support either Vladimir Putin or his actions in Ukraine.’

Mr Dempsey said: ‘I fully agree with the union’s position.’

It comes as around 10,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out for 24 hours yesterday – and will do it again on Thursday – in a row over jobs, pensions and conditions.

Financial estimates over how much a single-day Tube strike can cost London’s economy range between £10million and £50million. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen slammed the appearance of ‘extremely indulgent’ strikes while the West watches on as Russia invades Ukraine. 

‘Considering all that’s going on in the world right now, this strike action looks extremely indulgent,’ he told MailOnline.

‘This is the last thing the country and the capital needs right now.

‘It’s clear they [RMT] have stretched this strike out for a longer impact in order to maximise the disruption caused. The tube is a key component of the London economy.

‘I would advise them to settle this matter through negotiations rather than attempting to hold the capital to ransom.’ 

General Secretary Mick Lynch - who once sighed 'All I want from life is a bit of socialism' - collects a salary and benefits package worth £163,468

General Secretary Mick Lynch – who once sighed ‘All I want from life is a bit of socialism’ – collects a salary and benefits package worth £163,468

RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier's hat with an assault rifle

RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier’s hat with an assault rifle

The RMT including president Alex Gordon, right on the picket line, said its members were 'solidly supporting' the industrial action, which was causing travel chaos across the city

The RMT including president Alex Gordon, right on the picket line, said its members were ‘solidly supporting’ the industrial action, which was causing travel chaos across the city

Why are the tube drivers striking and what do they want? 

The union fears that spending cuts will lead to hundreds of job losses and reductions in pensions and working conditions. 

However, TfL insists it hasn’t proposed any changes to pensions or terms and conditions, and described the action as ‘completely unnecessary’. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Sadiq Khan should be standing up to Tory ministers who want to needlessly attack jobs, pensions and conditions of key transport workers.

‘It is this political failure that has left Tube workers with no choice but to strike this week.

‘Our members have been left paying the price for a turf war between City Hall and the government and they are not having it, as can be seen right across London today.’

Drivers can earn £24,000 while on a 12-16 week training course, which can then rise to £30,000 after completing assessments.

The salary for a newly qualified driver is around £49,000 but those with five years experience can pocket an extra £11,000 on top. 

In the financial year from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, the annual wage of a full time driver was £56,496.

This is on top of other perks the drivers enjoy such as free travel around the capital for them and a partner.  

They can retire on a reduced pension at the age of 50 or a full pension at 60.

But their bosses are unlikely to feel the pinch of having to shell out on expensive taxis felt by some Londoners this week, thanks to their combined total of £327,427 in salary and benefits and an RMT-subsidised car.

The most recent annual return for the trade union details the whopping wage slips and benefits received by the top three officers.

General Secretary Mick Lynch – who once sighed ‘All I want from life is a bit of socialism’ – collects a package worth some £124,886.

Lynch, who is the highest paid official, gets a £89,962 gross salary, Employers’ NI contributions of £11,590 and pension contributions of £23,334.

His Senior Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley is on a £62,664 gross salary, with Employers’ NI contributions of £7,823 and pension contributions of £21,793 and a car benefit of £1,712 – giving him a £93,992 bundle.

And the final of the three is Eddie Dempsey, the RMT’s Assistant General Secretary.

Dempsey gets no car but is on a package worth £108,549. It breaks down to £78,282 of gross salary, Employers’ NI contributions of £9,978 with pension contributions of £20,289.

An RMT spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The pay and benefits of RMT officials are decided on through our democratic structures and are ratified at the union’s Annual General Meeting in a wholly open and transparent process that every member has a right to comment on.

‘The employers National Insurance contributions should not be confused with earnings and the pension contributions are defined by the union’s pension scheme which all staff members belong to.’

Hedley was suspended by the RMT at the start of the pandemic after saying he would ‘throw a party’ if Boris Johnson died from coronavirus.

The union said it would investigate him and he was back at work by the end of the year. 

Dempsey posed for pictures with a far right Ukrainian separatist warlord Aleksander Mozgovny, in Ukraine.

He was slated after he wrote a glowing obituary to him when he was killed in 2015.  

The RMT – who has always defended officials’ salaries – has laid the blame for the strikes at the door of under-pressure Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

It said it had taken action because London Underground bosses refused to rule out job cuts and pension changes.

They cited Mr Khan telling Labour Party members last year: ‘Telling those people responsible for heroically keeping London moving throughout the pandemic that now is the time they need to pay more into their pension funds strikes me as neither fair nor reasonable. it is not their fault the pandemic struck and they have acted heroically.’ 

MPs joined the backlash over the strikes, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeting: ‘When Sadiq Khan first ran for Mayor of London he promised ‘zero days of strikes’ on the tube. 

‘Now we are entering yet another period of damaging strikes that threaten to bring London to a standstill. When you struggle to get to work today, remember: this is Sadiq Khan’s London.’ 

Commuters queue for buses at Waterloo station in London as tube services resume but remain disrupted following a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Tuesday

Commuters queue for buses at Waterloo station in London as tube services resume but remain disrupted following a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Tuesday

Workers cram onto buses in the rain after underground services were again disrupted following yesterday's strike

Workers cram onto buses in the rain after underground services were again disrupted following yesterday’s strike

The anger of passengers at Canada Water was exacerbated after they were initially told the station would reopen by 7.15am - only to then be informed just moments later it would likely remain shut until 8am

The anger of passengers at Canada Water was exacerbated after they were initially told the station would reopen by 7.15am – only to then be informed just moments later it would likely remain shut until 8am

Commuters queue for the underground to resume at Waterloo station in London, as tube services remain disrupted following a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Tuesday

Commuters queue for the underground to resume at Waterloo station in London, as tube services remain disrupted following a strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Tuesday

When the tubes did finally open, platforms were packed full of passengers already running late for work

When the tubes did finally open, platforms were packed full of passengers already running late for work

Rail fares hike means commuters now have to work for SEVEN weeks just to earn enough to pay for their season ticket 

Rail commuters face having to work up to seven weeks just to earn enough money for their annual season ticket under the latest crippling fares hike.

Train fares across England and Wales have surged 3.8 per cent – the sharpest increase since 2013.

Linked to the retail prices index, the annual rise will see the cost of the typical season ticket go up by nearly £120, to £3,263.

This is £1,069 – or 49 per cent – more than in 2010 and means fares have risen almost twice as fast as wages since then.

In London, bus and Tube fares will go up an extra percentage point (4.8 per cent).

It comes as workers face a huge rise in the cost of living, with household and energy bills expected to soar from next month, when the Government’s 1.25 percentage point national insurance tax hike also takes effect.

Campaigners fear the latest fares hike will discourage staff still working at home from returning to the office.

Analysis by the Campaign for Better Transport consumer group found the average full-time worker commuting from Brighton to London would have to work seven weeks to earn enough money to pay for their annual season ticket, which is now costing £5,302, up £194 compared with last year.

Between Liverpool and Manchester, a season ticket will rise by £105 to £2,865.  

Workers once again had to brave the rain and cram onto buses and into overpriced taxis this morning after underground services were almost entirely closed during peak hours, even though official action is only scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday this week.

The TfL website just after 7am showed all lines were either suspended, part-suspended or running with a reduced service or minor delays, with the exception of the Victoria and Central lines, as well as TfL rail.  

Rail bosses had earlier warned passengers to expect ‘severe disruption each morning, with services improving by late morning’, but few would have expected to arrive at stations today to find gates shut, as thousands did across the capital. 

The anger of passengers at Canada Water was exacerbated after they were initially told the station would reopen by 7.15am – only to then be informed just moments later it would likely remain shut until 8am. One embattled traveller was heard saying: ‘They don’t care about us because we’re poor.’ 

Meanwhile, there was disruption on other routes into the city, with passengers on a South West Trains service to London Waterloo evacuated at St Margaret’s, near Twickenham, following reports of a person being hit by a train. 

There are more headaches to come as well, with a full 24-hour strike again tomorrow, while fears are already growing of a repeat of the issues seen today on Friday.

There has been widespread fury yesterday at the timing of the strike – in the first full week since the end of all remaining Covid restrictions, with workers returning to the office in their droves – which sparked the worst traffic in the capital in three years years.

Tory MP Greg Smith said: ‘Billions in taxpayer bailout into TfL – and now despite ‘zero strike’ promises the Labour Mayor can’t even keep the tube open. My constituents who commute into London – and our nation’s capital more widely – deserve better.’ 

His colleague Greg Hands called it ‘a disgrace and an insult to hard-working Londoners who have sacrificed so much the last 2 years.’  

Londoners have said the capital is ‘becoming unlivable’ as many had to spend hours in transit before finally getting to work. 

Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square, added: ‘Presumably the strikers will still want a night out in central London when they’ve finished kicking us in the teeth and crowing at the disruption to the lives of millions. Despite their best efforts we’ll be providing timely service with a smile at a competitive price. Something the Tube has notably failed to do for years.’ 

John Rayner, 28, a construction worker who was waiting for a bus in Paddington, west London, said: ‘I missed two buses this morning because queues for buses are so long and some buses don’t even bother to stop. 

‘I walked to Paddington for over an hour as I thought I would have more luck getting a Tube from here. It is a joke. This city is becoming unlivable.’

Office worker Jasmine Keane, 40, said: ‘I have had to take an Uber to get to work. I don’t even know what time I will get to work with the traffic and weather.’

This was the picture on Google Maps in the capital on Tuesday morning - with roads through the centre of London completely gridlocked, even after rush hour

This was the picture on Google Maps in the capital on Tuesday morning – with roads through the centre of London completely gridlocked, even after rush hour 

Location technology firm TomTom said at 9am the level of road congestion was 119%, which is the highest figure for the capital this year. The level was 80% at the same time last week. The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.

Location technology firm TomTom said at 9am the level of road congestion was 119%, which is the highest figure for the capital this year. The level was 80% at the same time last week. The figures represent the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.

Tube strike in London shuts down the whole system. Wood Green station on the Piccadilly Line

Tube strike in London shuts down the whole system. Wood Green station on the Piccadilly Line

Tensions boiled over as passengers tried to force their way to the front of queues and pile onto buses, with fights breaking out in the carnage against a backdrop of heavy rainfall

Tensions boiled over as passengers tried to force their way to the front of queues and pile onto buses, with fights breaking out in the carnage against a backdrop of heavy rainfall

People are forced to make alternative arrangement on Tuesday after the tube strikes came into action. People seen looking frustrated at New Barnet overground station as British Rail trains are cancelled too

People are forced to make alternative arrangement on Tuesday after the tube strikes came into action. People seen looking frustrated at New Barnet overground station as British Rail trains are cancelled too

Commuters wait in long queues for buses at Victoria Train station as the underground is shut down due to strikes

Commuters wait in long queues for buses at Victoria Train station as the underground is shut down due to strikes

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