Flying in style Journalists track down the airline responsible for luxury jets that transport Patriarch Kirill, the prime minister's wife, and several senior Russian officials. Some of these trips are ‘off the books.’
Patriarch Kirill, Russian Orthodoxy’s top church official, flies around in a Gulfstream G450 private jet worth $43 million, according to a new investigation by the website The Bell.
Between 2013 and 2016, the plane reportedly belonged to an offshore company registered on the Isle of Man called “Helter Management Ltd” — an entity affiliated with the Russian state bank VTB. The jet was later re-registered in San Marino with the tail number T7-ZZZ. This plane’s operator, “Skyline Aviation SRL,” manages other jets used by the state television host Nailya Asker-Zade and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s wife, according to two recent investigative reports by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Another two jets managed by Skyline belong to offshore companies affiliated with VTB.
Using open sources, The Bell learned that the Gulfstream G450’s most frequent passenger was Patriarch Kirill, and it was also used by former Kremlin chief of staff Sergey Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev, presidential envoy Nikolai Tsukanov, and other senior officials. The patriarch also frequently travels aboard other luxury private jets. According to the Russian Orthodox Church, private patrons are responsible for providing these services.
State officials’ air-transportation services are officially conducted through public procurement contracts, but the “SPARK-Marketing” database has no record of government deals with Skyline Aviation SRL. It’s also unknown who owns this company and whether it’s affiliated with VTB Bank.