We received a reply from Mr Sechin, Russian deputy prime minister, and Mr Dvorkovich, presidential aide, who received Novaya Gazeta’s inquiry about how they prefer to travel by air, as did other high ranking government officials and state company heads. (Details can be found in issue No. 44 of 25 April 2011.)
It turns out both “hitch a ride”, either with the president and prime minister, or with representatives of state companies.
The following is the reply we received from Mr Sechin’s representative:
“When I.I. Sechin takes part in events attended by the president of the Russian Federation and the prime minister, the opportunity to take advantage of the administration of the president is used.
Moreover, in cases of events in which representatives of companies (for the most part with governmental participation) take part, these companies having access to air transportation, we can take advantage of passing air transport at their invitation.
In relation to the company Airfix Aviation, it is necessary to note that, according to information from Russian companies, this organisation provides air transport services in accordance with a set order, including a number of Russian companies from the oil and gas sector.
It is very important to note that I.I. Sechin has never used air transport that belonged to Mr [Gennady] Timchenko personally”.
And why should it belong to him personally? We’re not living in the Stone Age.
Sechin, it would seem, was responding to an article published in Novaya Gazeta (“Officials Flying High” No. 04 of 18 January 2010).
To recap, we published an article that mentioned the company Airfix Aviation, which indeed provided airline service for subsidiaries of Rosneft, Gazprom and Transneft. As follows from the reply, Sechin doesn’t deny that he uses their services, otherwise he would directly say so, as in the case with Timchenko.
Incidentally, Timchenko, according to Finland’s commercial registry, is a member of the board of Airflix Aviation. What’s more, western media reports have it that he is closely connected to IPP, founder of Airfix Aviation.
Whatever the case may be, we would like to thank Mr Sechin for his thorough reply.
And we would like to thank even more Mr Dvorkovich, whose reply reads like a novel.
In short: the presidential aide makes use of regularly scheduled flights, though he very often, like Mr Sechin, hitches a ride with others. Unlike the deputy prime minister, Dvorkovich doesn’t fly with Airfix Aviation, which is logical since they are planes used for the “natural resource-power” group of officials and businessmen, to which Arkady Vladimirovich has no connection.
Even so, for private travel he uses planes from the air company Moscow Sky, and what’s more, if he is flying with his wife, she pays for the ticket “in proportion to the number of family members” on board.
Dvorkovich also commented on Novaya Gazeta’s speculation, based on information it found on “planespotting” websites, about when and where he flew on business jets. It turns out he was indeed in Baden-Baden and Innsbruck on private business, and flew to Krasnoyarsk on Oleg Deripaska’s plane and to Ufa for a government council meeting. But he flew to Innsbruck not on 23 January, as Novaya Gazeta incorrectly supposed, but 2 January, which, you must admit, is much more logical.
Dvorkovich’s reply, like that of [Minister of Finances Alexei] Kudrin, refers to presidential decree No. 813 from 18 July 2005, “On the Procedure and Conditions of Official Travel for Federal Government Officials”.
To refresh your memory, we studied the document carefully and the most curious point we found was item 37 of the decree, in which it is stated that the president and government of the Russian Federation “have the right to allow government bodies, in essential situations during short-term business trips on the territory of foreign governments, to pay independent civil personnel uncontrolled sums of money in foreign currencies for duty-related expenses as well as other payments”.
Below is the full text of Arkady Dvorkovich’s reply:
In connection to the performance of his duties as aide to the president of the Russian Federation, A.V. Dvorkovich makes use of air transport for travelling within Russia and abroad no less than 5-6 times a month.
In general, he flies on regular flights on Russian and foreign airlines.
In certain cases, when regular flights that would allow him to arrive at a proper time to take part in events as a part of his work schedule are not available, and flights with business representatives (for the most part partially state-owned), who are also taking part in a given event, are available, at their invitation A.V. Dvorkovich makes his way to the location of the event on the passing flight. What’s more, the cost of all flights made in connection with the performance of his official duties, including those made using business aviation, is paid in accordance with the rules and regulations set by presidential decree No. 813 of 18 July 2005, “On the Procedure and Conditions of Official Travel for Federal Government Officials”.
When undertaking private journeys unrelated to official duties, A.V. Dvorkovich and the members of his family, for the most part, fly on regularly scheduled flights on Russian airlines and 3-4 times a year make use of the services of the airline Moscow Skies. The flight is rented out to several families, and the price of the flight for A.V. Dvorkovich’s family is paid by his wife in proportion to the number of members of their family.
In cases when events are organised by business structures, they choose the airline.
Presidential aide A.V. Dvorkovich has not had recourse to the services of the airline Airfix Aviation.
In regards to the article “Why can’t government officials fly like everyone else?” published in Novaya Gazeta No. 44 of 25 April 2011, I would like to state that Presidential Aide A.V. Dvorkovich:
On 5 December 2010 took a private trip to Baden-Baden, his wife paying for the flight;
On 2 January 2011 four families, which included the family of A.V. Dvorkovich, flew to Innsbruck on a private trip, and a quarter of the cost of the flight (proportional to the number of passengers on the flight) was paid for by A.V. Dvorkovich’s wife;
23 January 2011, he was present in Moscow.
11 February 2011, he took part in a panel of the State Council of the Russian Federation for the support of the activity of the State Council of the Russian Federation.
17 February 2011, he flew to Krasnoyarsk for the VIII Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum together with O.V. Deripaska, who offered him a place on his plane, in so much as he was also taking part in the given forum”.
P.S. As of today Igor Shuvalov, Vladislav Surkov, Sergei Kiriyenko and Alexei Miller remain in the list of officials and heads of state companies who have not replied to us. The legal term for officials to reply expires after the May holidays.