US defendant admits smuggling avionics equipment into Russia, FSB also customers 

Russia FSB
rebrova irina /

A businessman in the United States (US) has pleaded guilty in court to numerous export control and money laundering violations that involved smuggling avionics equipment into Russia.  

Douglas Edward Robertson, 56, of Olathe, Kansas, accepted his part in selling and exporting “sophisticated and controlled” avionics equipment to customers in Russia, in breach of US laws put in place following President Vladamir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.  

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Robertson, the former vice president of KanRus Trading Company, circumvented US export laws by falsifying forms and conspired with two other men. 

“Robertson, by his own admission, conspired to sell advanced U.S. avionics equipment to Russian customers in violation of U.S. law,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen, said. “The Justice Department will not tolerate those who seek to undermine the effectiveness of export controls that protect critical U.S. technology and deter Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.” 

Robertson admitted between 2020 and 2023, that he, Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Oleg Chistyakov from Latvia, smuggled equipment to customers in Russia and other countries by lying about the exports’ value, end users and end destinations. 

Russian Federal Security Service

In one instance, the three men smuggled a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).  

In 2021 an FSB sticker was removed from the system and then repaired in the US before being shipped back out to the Russian security service. 

Robertson admitted that following the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the group shipped avionics equipment through intermediary companies in Armenia, Laos, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus before finally reaching Russia. 

“Those who seek to profit by illegally selling sophisticated U.S. technology to our adversaries are putting the national security of our country at risk and that cannot be tolerated,” said Executive Assistant Director Robert Wells of the FBI’s National Security Branch.  

He added: “It is appalling that the defendant schemed to smuggle avionics equipment to customers overseas including Russia, a nation engaged in a long-running military conflict with Ukraine.” 

Robertson, who was arrested in March 2023, faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each of the two Export Control Reform Act counts, and 20 years in prison for the money laundering count. He is due for sentencing on October 3, 2024.  

In 2023, Buyanovsky, the former president and owner of KanRus, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering and consented to the forfeiture of over $450,000 worth of avionics equipment and accessories, and a $50,000 personal forfeiture judgment. 

Chistyakov, a former KanRus broker, was arrested in Riga, Latvia, for his role in the illegal smuggling scheme. The US has applied for his extradition.  

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