Wikileaks published content of US Embassy cables; the below is copied from such a communication., Wednesday 1 December 2010 21.30 GMT Article history

The cables reveals that aircraft belonging to Viktor Bout - the alleged Russian arms dealer extradited to the US last month - are rotting at a 'sleepy' airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Thursday, 07 January 2010, 07:41
C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBAI 000001
EO 12958 DECL: 2020/01/07
SUBJECT: RAK Airport Sleepy, but with Residual Russian Connection
CLASSIFIED BY: Justin Siberell, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General,
Dubai; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: The Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Airport is attempting to reinvent itself as a cargo transit point for the RAK Free Zone in the wake of RAK Airways suspension of regular commercial flights in late 2008. The airport is also working to distance itself from its reputation as a transport facilitator for clients such as international arms trafficker Victor Bout, who used the RAK airport as a base of operations.
The Wing Air aircraft once linked to Victor Bout are grounded and effectively abandoned. Former RAK Airport CEO Michelle Soliman conveyed continuing concerns about the airport's reputation and client base, however, and is seeking to identify"more desirable" clients as the airport increases its operations.
End Summary.

The Russian Connection

5. (C) Soliman told OFACATT that Wing Air Services, a company publicly linked to international arms trafficker and UN sanctions target Victor Bout, is still on the Airport's registration list only because it is the last registered owner of the IL-76 aircraft and Gulfstream jet now effectively abandoned at RAK Airport on their parking apron. Soliman said Mach Avia Services was at one time identified as the agent of the IL-76, but eventually "washed its hands of it" and claimed that Wing Air Services was responsible for the aircraft. Soliman took EmbOffs on a tour of the airport that included a viewing of Wing Air aircraft.
The Wing Air Gulfstream was completely gutted, apparently cannibalized for parts. Soliman said that the Russian companies were kept on short-term lease arrangements so that they could be moved out of RAK as soon more desirable clients could be found (Note: Soliman also pointed out as suspect two new Bombardier CRJ jets worth USD 50 million abandoned by their owners immediately after they arrived. Soliman said the owners are impossible to reach, although sporadically maintenance people show up.
End Note).



Received the following comment:
"Yeah, Viktor was in tight at Ras al Khaimah Airport.  He came in 2000 and personally set up Wing Air with the help of RAK civil aviation officials.  I don't have it any more, but a Wing Air document I found gave the same address as the Civil Aviation Authority.

Viktor was operational for several years until the federal civil aviation authorities in Abu Dhabi got wind of his presence and ordered
RAK to shut him down.  The name 'Wing Air' went away but if you look at the web link below, you'll notice a familiar name doing maintenance (under Additional Information).  Also some of the names under Airlines Serving Airport should also be of interest."
Additional Information: Air navigation equipment and runway lighting was modernised in 2000. New cargo equipment has been purchased and a new cargo hangar constructed. A new Flight Information System has been introduced. A new maintenance centre, Saratov Plant Industries maintains YAK40 and YAK42 aircraft and the Shahed/Aircess centre continues to maintain all major types of Russian aircraft.
Airlines Serving Airport: AFH, AZS, Aeroflot, Air Cess, Astrakhan Airlines, Atlas Air, Centrafrican Airlines, Domodedovo Airlines, Egyptair, Georgian Airlines, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Kazakhstan Airlines, Kuban Airlines, Kyrgyzstan Airlines, Mahan Air, Payam Air, Qeshm Air, Tashkent Aviation, Ukraine Int´l, Uzbekistan Airways, Volare, Yuzmashavia ./ end quote

Here is a document on the web that has some good details about Viktor's supposed activities in RAK:
It brings Victor Bout in connection with Duane Egli again (see my VB page 29) and other former associates from VB's Ostend days, leading to a theory through alleged involvement of the Sheikh of Ras Al-Khaimah, that Bout has diversified into diamonds (and arms vice versa?) smuggling between Venezuela and Iran.
The document reads like a thriller but imo it builds in layers of suppositions and has not enough evidence. There is a logic to the idea that Victor Bout looked for other sources of income (after 2005?) and considered trading 'workhorses' (his planes were tracked everywhere) for 'mules' (persons carrying diamonds), but I don't see the evidence.

Updates & comments welcomed.


Victor Bout, the Official Website

Back to Victor Bout's file

Created 08-Apr-2011,
Updated 23-Aug-2018