February 4, 2023


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Drone accused Andrey Yakunin of calling his father from prison - the trial against him now begins - VG

Drone accused Andrey Yakunin of calling his father from prison – the trial against him now begins – VG

TRIAL HEARINGS: Andrei Yakunin, 47, who holds British and Russian citizenship, is on trial for illegally flying a drone in Norway earlier this fall. The photo is from the trip to Svalbard.

Drone accuser Tromsø (VG) Andrei Yakunen will appear in court on Tuesday. From prison, he spoke to his father on the phone, a former KGB agent with ties to Putin.


Yakunen appears before the Nord-Troms-Sinja District Court today, accused of illegally using a drone over Svalbard.

Sanctions regulations prohibit Russians from operating aircraft and drones in Norway.

Yakunin claims that he is British himself, checked the rules in advance and found no ban on the British, and flew drones for security and tourism purposes. Circumstances occurred from August 3 to September 6. On October 17, he was arrested by the police in Hammerfest.

Yakunin is the son of Vladimir Yakunin, who has been part of President Putin’s inner circle for many years. The now 74-year-old oligarch is a Russian businessman and former KGB agent.

VG posed several specific questions to the 47-year-old accused of the drone via one of his attorneys, Bernt Heiberg of law firm Elden, and an audio file in which Yakunin answers questions Heiberg asks the client was sent to VG. .

We were not present when the questions were asked and therefore did not have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.

The Great Father: Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, met VG for an interview in 2016.

Commenting on his father Putin’s relations

In the audio clip, Defender Heiberg asks questions that VG wrote to Yakunin.

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– Vladimir Yakunin, your father is a former KGB agent with ties to Vladimir Putin. What is your comment on this?

– That’s a very short description I gave of him. He was also the head of the largest state-owned company in Russia, which was also the largest employer there. The son replies that it would be unreasonable to expect that the head of such a company has nothing to do with the leadership of the country.

He had the chance to speak to his father himself during the phone call in prison – the last time was last week.

– I can say for sure that this is definitely a change in sailing career that he did not expect from his son. He answers questions about how the father would react to the fact that he is now on trial in Norway.

Caught on a Sailing Trip: Andrei Yakunin owns this ‘Firebird’ sailboat that he’s been vacationing with.

Explains flying drones

– Why did you fly a drone, although it is illegal for Russian citizens in Norway?

– I would like to remind you that I am a British citizen living in Italy. When we checked the rules before our Svalbard trip, there was nothing that said a British man couldn’t fly a drone for a hobby in Svalbard, he explains.

Yakunin replies that the purpose of the drone’s flight is twofold; To share the beautiful North Pole with those who haven’t been there, and for safety reasons at sea and in the mountains – among other things, to see ski routes if they didn’t have a guide with them or there was no description of the routes they wanted to go. He confirms that this is normal.

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– I hardly know any ocean sailors who don’t have a drone with them for safe navigation in the icy waters.

Attorney John Christian Elden has previously said that the case is too complicated legally to end up in the Supreme Court again. Yakunin’s detention ended in the appeals committee, and the appeals court, which initially wanted his release, came to the conclusion at the next session that he could nevertheless be kept in detention until trial.

Although Yakunin considers himself British, the Court of Appeal held that his Russian citizenship made him subject to the ban. Nor did the court agree with the defenders’ claim that Rossi’s refusal to operate aircraft over Svalbard contravened the Svalbard Treaty.

Forgot to take the Russian passport out of the bag

During a search on board the boat, the police found his Russian passport in a bag in the cabin.

The court noted during pre-trial detention that this conclusion was in stark contrast to the explanation Yakunin gave to the police that his Russian passport was in an apartment in another European country.

– Why do you still have the Russian passport if you are a British citizen?

Great Britain is a very diverse country. We have people from all over the world and there is no requirement to give up the citizenship you were born with when you become a British citizen. And, frankly, this question has never been relevant, and it applies not only to Russians, but also to other people in London who were born with a different nationality.

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– Why did you bring your Russian passport to Norway?

– I forgot to take it out of the bag and it’s my regular travel partner on business trips.

When asked if he had lied to the Norwegian authorities about having a Russian passport in another country, Yakunin replied that his mind was elsewhere when the police asked him if he had any proof of his Russian nationality, and thus might not understand. The importance of the question.

– I couldn’t remember I had it in my bag either. But I immediately provided a copy of the expired document and would have quickly followed it up with a copy of the current document if I was allowed to do so, Yakunin explains.