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Press Release

Latvian Broker Arrested for Allegedly Smuggling Advanced U.S. Aircraft Technology to Russia

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

In a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury, a citizen of the Republic of Latvia is charged with crimes related to a years-long conspiracy to sell sophisticated avionics equipment to Russian companies, in violation of U.S. export laws. The defendant is the third to be arrested and charged in connection with the conspiracy led by a Kansas company and two U.S. nationals.

According to the superseding indictment, Oleg Chistyakov, also known as Olegs Čitsjakovs, 55, conspired with U.S. citizens Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Edward Robertson, of Kansas, to facilitate the sale, repair and shipment of U.S. avionics equipment to customers in Russia and in other countries that operate Russian-built aircraft, including the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB). Chistyakov was arrested on March 19 near Riga, Latvia, and remains detained pending extradition proceedings. In December 2023, Buyanovsky pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering, and consented to the forfeiture of over $450,000 worth of avionics equipment and a $50,000 personal forfeiture judgment.

“As alleged, Mr. Chistyakov facilitated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit transactions to funnel sophisticated U.S. aerospace technology to companies in Russia,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This arrest is another example of the Justice Department’s unwavering mission to hold accountable those who enable Russian aggression, including those involved in facilitation networks that fuel the Russian war effort.”

“The Justice Department upholds the laws of the United States and prosecutes those who break them regardless of whether those individuals are on U.S. soil or the other side of the world,” said U.S. Attorney Kate E. Brubacher for the District of Kansas. “Oleg Chistyakov’s arrest was only possible due to the assistance and cooperation of authorities in Latvia. This type of international cooperative effort makes it immensely challenging for those accused of committing crimes against the U.S. to find safe havens beyond reach of our judicial system.”

“The FBI and our partners continue to pursue anyone who aids Russia in its unjust and autocratic behavior or to violate export control laws or any other law for that matter,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Today’s indictment and forfeiture judgment should serve as a reminder that we will not tolerate attempts to transfer sensitive avionics equipment and technology to hostile nations.”

“It doesn't matter if you’re in Kansas or in Latvia — if you violate American law, you risk facing American justice,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Matthew S. Axelrod for Export Enforcement. “We continue to work closely with law enforcement partners across the globe to pursue those who seek to send military-grade aerospace equipment to support the Russian military.” 

According to court documents, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and despite additional U.S. economic countermeasures levied against Russia, Chistyakov and his conspirators continued to smuggle and export sophisticated and controlled avionics equipment to companies in Russia without the required licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

As further alleged, Chistyakov, while operating from Latvia, worked with Buyanovsky and Robertson through their U.S. company, KanRus Trading Company Inc. (KanRus), to circumvent U.S export laws by purchasing avionics equipment from U.S. companies for customers in Russia. Chistyakov allegedly acted as a broker for KanRus by soliciting quotes, negotiating prices and terms of delivery, and facilitating payments between KanRus and customers in Russia. 

The superseding indictment details actions allegedly taken by Chistyakov and his conspirators to conceal their illegal activities including by creating false invoices, transshipping items through third-party countries, such as Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), using bank accounts in third-party countries, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the UAE, and exporting items to intermediary companies which then reexported the items to the ultimate end destinations. 

On Dec. 6, 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce added many of the entities and individuals involved in Chistyakov’s alleged illegal export scheme to the Commerce Department’s Entity List as part of the U.S. government’s interagency efforts to dismantle Russian procurement networks designed to circumvent U.S. export controls and sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Entity List imposes specific license requirements on all listed individuals and entities.

Chistyakov is charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of violation of Export Control Reform Act, multiple counts of smuggling goods from the United States, conspiracy to commit international money laundering and two counts of international money laundering. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy, 20 years in prison for each Export Control count, 10 years in prison for each smuggling count and 20 years in prison for each money laundering count.

The FBI and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement are investigating the case, including participation in Latvia following Chistyakov’s arrest. Procedural actions were carried out in close cooperation with the State Security Service of the Republic of Latvia and assistance of the Prosecutor-General’s Office.    

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Rask and Ryan Huschka for the District of Kansas and Trial Attorney Adam Barry of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is providing valuable assistance. 

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

Updated March 28, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-365