Nearly five dozen aircraft in Russia’s state aviation fleet were allegedly transferred abroad illegally by Rosaviatsiya, the Kremlin’s Air Transport Agency, since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with some going to “unfriendly” countries, according to Russia’s national newspaper.

The pro-Kremlin news site Izvestia reported that a joint raid was carried out on offices of the Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya, by the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Ministry of Internal Affairs.

They were investigating accusations that 59 aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopters, had been illegally exported after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, some of which went to hostile states who subsequently provided them to Kyiv for use against Putin’s so-called “special military operation.”


Of the 59 aircraft illegally deregistered, 21 aircraft were sold to states outside the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and eight to unnamed “unfriendly” countries. A number of the aircraft left Russia as charter or cargo flights but did not return with “neither their temporary nor permanent removal of the aircraft being formalized.”

Izvestia cited Russian law enforcement sources who said at least three Mi-8 helicopters and two Il-76 transport aircraft, with their transponders turned off so that their routes could not be tracked, had been identified as being used on operations by Ukraine. Others have been identified working in Moldova and Azerbaijan with the rest not yet being tracked down.

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The investigation was sparked by an audit of Rosaviatsiya’s registry of aircraft in July 2023, which appeared to show that after the start of the full-scale war, agency employees had unlawfully deregistered the airplanes and helicopters, in contravention of legislation invoked after the 2022 invasion.

Two senior employees Kristina Byvalina, Head of the Flight Safety Inspection Department, and Petr Kozyrev, Deputy Head of the Department of State Registration of Civil Aircraft, Rights and Transactions, were taken into custody.


Izvestia’s source said that the investigators had seized “objects and documents that confirmed the illegality of the actions of the Rosaviatsiya employees and other as yet unidentified persons in deregistering the aircraft.”

According to a source in the Ministry of Transport, the Rosaviatsiya employees not only deregistered the equipment, but failed to complete the required documentation, and provided contradictory information about the recipients of the aircraft or their whereabouts.

Izvestia’s sources indicated that other criminal cases could be opened against the former head of the Rosaviatsiya agency, Alexander Neradko, who resigned in September, probably in connection with this scandal, and Anna Zhiltsova, Byvalina’s former deputy, who was fired last June for “displaying an anti-war poster in the workplace.”

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