On November 3, 2020, Orsha airfield, formerly known as the Balbasovo military airfield, received a certificate of serviceability.
In 2021, an additional loan of $ 1.6 million will be allocated for the construction of a second runway with additional facilities at the Orsha airfield (web archive). Therefore, it can be assumed that the need to reconstruct the airfield recently opened for international traffic indicates expectations for a large amount of traffic and its prospects as a large cargo hub, or, taking into account the facts below, as a military maintenance base for the Russian Air Force.
Namely: exactly six months before the certificate was issued, on June 3, 2020, the Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant, whose territory is located in the same Bremina-Orsha logistics center, issued a power of attorney to the Russian Helimountains company (web archive) for the following services (quote):
“- for the structural overhauls at a certified repair company OAO Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant on Mi-2, Mi-8T, Mi-8MTV-1, Mi-8AMT, Mi-171, Mi-171E, Mi-17, Mi 171A1, Mi-171A2, and Mi-26T helicopters owned by Russian airlines;
– for the performance of scheduled checks, maintenance and repair of components at the certified repair enterprise – OAO Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant on Mi-2, Mi-8T, Mi8MTV-1, Mi-8AMT, Mi-171, Mi-171E, Mi-17, Mi-171A1, Mi-171A2, and Mi-26T helicopters owned by Russian airlines.”
This power of attorney expires on December 31, 2022.
Power of attorney of OAO Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant, photo helimountains.ru
Further, the Mountain Helicopters group of companies, on whose website this power of attorney was found, names potential customers for the services (quote): “Russian civil helicopter airlines, as well as all state bodies of the Russian Federation, such as the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Federal Security Service of Russia, the Navy of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Rosgvardia (Federal National Guard Troops Service), Roskosmos (Federal Space agency of the Russian Federation), the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, the Border Service of the FSB of Russia, the Federal Customs Service of Russia, special flight units and others.”
The fact that the customers of the services are indeed the Ministry of Defense of Russia and other Russian law enforcement agencies is confirmed by the trip of representatives of OOO Helimountains in August 2020 (that is, after receiving the power of attorney) to the Army-2020 exhibition in Moscow, where they organized a series of meetings with the Russian military for the management of Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant (web archive).
OOO Helimountains was founded in February 2019. During the registration of this company, ist core activity was specified as “Wet lease of cargo aircraft”. But then, in October 2020, several more activities were added to the official documents of the company (web archive):
“- Wholesale trade in weapons and ammunition;
– Retail sale of weapons and ammunition in specialized stores;
– Warehousing and storage activities”
The website (web archive) of OOO Helimountains indicates that OOO Helimountains is a part of the Mountain Helicopters group of companies, which also includes OOO Helimountains-West and Mountain Helicopters Ltd.
OOO Helimountains is located in Moscow, address (web archive): 6 Kazarmenny lane, building 1, office 5. OOO Helimountains-Zapad is also located there. Mountain Helicopters Ltd is located in Warsaw, at the address: Hoza st., 86 / 210.00-682.
Nikolay Raichenko, photo from the site https://helimountains.ru/
Vladimir Isakov, screenshot from video
They both have active social media accounts and post a lot of photos. In particular, in their accounts there are pictures from the Army-2020 exhibition, as well as pictures of their personnel in front of a military helicopter, which is probably being maintained at the Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant.
At the exhibition Army-2020, together with representatives of the Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant (web archive)
When studying the vk.ru account of Vladimir Isakov, we found photographs dated 2018 in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea, as well as evidence of his support the aggressive ideology of so called “Russian world”:
According to the Isakov’s hash tags written by him under the photo, these photos may indicate that the purpose of the trip was not only tourism and fun, but also some business projects.
Among the activities of another company, OOO Helimountains-Zapad, owned by the director and founder of this organization, Nikolai Raichenko, there are: activities of travel agencies, activities of tour operators, booking services and other related activities (web archive).
Screenshot of the registered activities of the Helimountains-West company on the website zachestnyibiznes.ru
Although no facts of actual provision of tourist services by this company have been discovered, it can be assumed that the recorded trip to Crimea could be the first step towards planning and organizing a tourist business in the occupied Ukrainian territory, which for some reasons is not yet working. But judging by the core business of this and other companies of the Mountain Helicopters group and considering the transformation of Crimea into a Russian military base, most likely the purpose of the business negotiations was rather the maintenance of military aircraft, trade in arms and ammunition, the lease of cargo vessels and air transportation. In any case, the Security Service of Ukraine should investigate whether Nikolai Raichenko and Mountain Helicopters have a business on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. And in the presence of such business activity, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, initiate asset freezes or other international sanctions against foreign property of such companies as the Warsaw subsidiary of Mountain Helicopters.
This investigation shows yet again evidence of cooperation between the Belarusian and Russian defense authorities, which may indicate plans for the further use of the technical, civilian and military infrastructure of Belarus for Russian reckless military policies and international war crimes. In addition, the defense authorities of Ukraine and other neighboring countries of Belarus, members of the European Union and NATO, should take into account that in the event of further “integration” of Belarus by Russia, during the next escalation stage of Russian aggression against these states, such maintenance contracts can be used as a guise to redeploy serviceable Russian military equipment to Belarus, in particular helicopters and airplanes to Orsha, as if they required maintenance. At the same time, the territory of Belarus can be used as a springboard for the aggression and offensive operations against neighboring countries.
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