Kansas Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Avionics To Russia

U.S. Department of Justice

Credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty Images

The owner of a Kansas City-area business has pleaded guilty to filing false export forms and for continuing to sell controlled avionics equipment to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky, 60, owner and president of KanRus Trading Co., of New Century, Kansas, on Dec. 19 pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering counts for his role in a “years-long conspiracy” to circumvent U.S. export laws, the Justice Department (DOJ) said. Federal authorities arrested Buyanovsky and a partner, former KanRus vice president Douglas Robertson, in March.

Robertson, 56, on Dec. 20 pleaded not guilty to federal charges, the Associated Press reported.

As part of his guilty plea, Buyanovsky admitted that between 2020 and his arrest last March, he conspired with Robertson and others to smuggle U.S.-origin avionics to end users in Russia, as well as to Russian end users in other countries, by filing false export forms and failing to file required export forms with the U.S. government.

After the U.S. tightened export controls involving Russia following that country’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Buyanovsky admitted that he, Robertson, and others continued to purchase and export U.S.-origin avionics equipment to customers in Russia.

They took various steps to hide their illegal activity from law enforcement, including lying to U.S. suppliers about the intended end users, shipping goods through intermediary companies in Armenia, the United Arab Emirates, and Cyprus, and using foreign bank accounts to funnel money from Russian customers to KanRus Trading.

Among the avionics equipment involved were a Honeywell BendixKing KI-203 installation kit, KT-74 transponder, and KA-61 L-band antenna, according to an indictment filed in March in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. As of Feb. 24, 2022, companies required an export license from the U.S. Commerce Department to send these avionics to Russia.

In addition to pleading guilty, Buyanovsky consented to the forfeiture of $450,000 worth of avionics equipment and accessories and a $50,000 personal forfeiture judgment, the DOJ said. Among the equipment that Buyanovsky forfeited was a pallet of avionics devices that was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection the day before he and Robertson were arrested.

“Buyanovsky admitted to a long-running scheme to smuggle sophisticated U.S. avionics equipment to Russia, doubling down to hide his actions after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” said Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general of the DOJ National Security Division. The “guilty plea demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to cut off Moscow from the means to fuel its military and hold those enabling it accountable in a court of law.”

Buyanovsky faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison—five years for the conspiracy count and 20 years for the money laundering count, the DOJ said. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2024.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.