Borisov and Chumakov, MAI helicopters “pilots”

The controversial Russian Yuri A. Borisov signed contracts worth over 24 million Euros with the General Inspectorate of Aviation subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The object of these contracts: the repairing and maintenance of Russian manufactured Romanian helicopters. Some of the contracts are valid until 2020. The names of Borisov and his companies appear in several international scandals. He sold military equipment to Sudan, a country under the European Union embargo, got himself involved in the Lithuanian elections and bribed a colonel in the USA Army. Yuri Borisov graduated from the Engineering Academy of the Zhukovsky Air Forces and was a pilot in the USSR Army for 10 years. Until the beginning of 1990, when he was discharged and started a new mission: to fix and maintain Russian helicopters. This is how he started his own air companies, Aviabaltika Aviation and Sank Petersburg Aircraft Repair Company (SPARC), from Lithuania, Russia respectively.

Corruption form Lithuania to the USA

In 2002, Borisov got himself involved in the presidential elections in Lithuania. Back then, he donated 400,000 dollars for Rolandas Paksas’s campaign. Paksas won the elections. That same year, he received the Russian citizenship from Vladimir Putin and renounced Lithuanian citizenship. An investigation of the Lithuanian Parliament uncovered the fact that, on the 11th of April 2003, president Paksas signed a decree to grant Borisov his citizenship back. The Reuters Agency reported that Borisov asked Paksas to get rid of his economic competition. Following the completion of the investigation, Borisov was deprived of his Lithuanian citizenship and Paskas lost his the presidential office. Furthermore, his deputy seat was revoked. Seven years later, CEDO ruled that Lithuania violated the law revoking the parliamentary mandate.

The Lithuanian secret services have monitored Borisov’s activity ever since 1999. In the autumn of 2002, Aviabaltika supplied the Sudanese helicopters with dual use spare parts. The state is under the embargo of the European Union. Later, the Lithuanians seized three MI-8 helicopters that were to be delivered to Bangladesh. Borisov’s company, Aviabaltika, is mentioned in several Wikileaks secret documents. In 2005, he asked for the authorities’ permission to train Iranian pilots in Russia. SPSRC was also involved in the affair. Martynas Lukoseviciu, from the Department of Gun Control, announced in a telegram that Aviabaltika was not given the permission. One of the reasons was that authorities were not given access to key information, for example the name of the pilots. Borisov’s two companies Aviabaltika and SPARC are mentioned in a corruption file opened by the Pentagon. A Avibaltika representative bribed colonel Norbert Vergez, the chief of the NSRWA program during 2010-212, in order to favor Borisov’s companies. The program contracted spare parts and repairing for the MI-17 helicopters used in Irak, Afaganistan or Pakistan. The USA Department of Justice announced that Vergez received a Rolex watch, a 30.000 dollars cheque and an employment contract. Vergez also pleaded guilty to the accusation of requesting the backdating of a document that would have determined the American Army to make illegal payments worth 3.76 million dollars to Borisov’s companies.

Chumakov, Borisov’s man in Romania

Ever since the early 2000s, the Russians from Aviabaltika made their presence known. The company representative in Romania and the executive director of Invest Nikarom, Victor Chumakov announced in December 2004 that the Lithuanian company intends to build five repairing facilities for the Russian helicopters MI-8 și MI-17, Cluj-Napoca and Iaşi included. The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Bucharest was also involved. According to a press report issued back then by Agerpres, Chumakov also said that a Ministry helicopter was repaired and upgraded. The facilities were never built, but businesses kept on going. Much like the relationship between Invest Nikarom and Aviabaltika, monopolizing all spare parts, repairs and maintenance of Russian helicopters contracts with IGAv (the General Inspectorate of Aviation). The two either worked together, either competed (apparently at least). Up until 2012, Aviabaltika was granted four contracts worth over 20 million Euros. For one of the auctions it partnered up with Lom Praha, a company owned by the Czech Ministry of Defense.

The inspector general of IGAv, commodore Traian Ioan Cârstoiu, said that the past three years there were seven framework agreements with Aviabaltika and one with Invest Nikarom. One of the contracts awarded to Borisov’s company required the repairing and maintenance of the engines and mechanical assemblies of two MI-17 helicopters. The contract was worth 1.9 million Euros. The other seven contracts provided over two million Euros worth of spare parts and supplies for the two MI-17 helicopters and one MI-8 helicopter. The Invest Nikarom agreement was signed in September 2015 and was meant to upgrade the no. 107 and no. 108 MI-17 helicopters by means of installing landing systems. The contract was worth 332,000 Lei. „The procedure declared Aviabaltika Aviation Ltd. as a sub-contractor, with a subcontracting percent of 86%,” commodore Cârstoiu said. Upon investigating the contracts between the two companies, the Court of Auditors found that IGAv paid over 11.4 million Euros for the upgrade of helicopters belonging to special aviation units in Bucharest and Cluj. “The deficient payments were made to Invest Nikarom (…) and Aviabaltika. The situation was rectified according to recommendations made by the team of experts from the Romanian Court of Auditors,” commodore Cârstoiu also said.

Chumakov, the Mechel pawn

The Invest Nikarom company is under the patronage of Russians Svetlana Chumakova and Victor Chumakov. They came to Romania in 1993, but came into the public’s attention in 2013. It was back then when they bought, for only 230 Lei, the four steel mills owned by Mechel in Romania. The Russian Mechel group is controlled by the billionaire Igor Zyuzin. Zyuzin’s business were affected by the 2016 raw material price drop and by the penalties imposed to Russia following the conflict with Ukraine. But Zyuzin was saved by three Russian banks. Back then, Reuters reported that Zyuzin’s empire was saved with the help of Vladimir Putin.