Sanctions Against Oligarchs

Why Silk Way Rally Association and Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov Were Sanctioned in 2024

Who Is Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov ?

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the international Silk Way Rally Association (Silk Way) and its head, Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov. His son Amir Bulatovich Yanborisov (Amir) also is accused to use Silk Way’s logistical infrastructure to procure anti-UAV and radio electronic warfare equipment for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Silk Way, Bulat, and Amir were designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy. . The sanctions were part of a larger package unveiled by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 12, 2024.

What is Silk Way Rally Association ?

The Silk Way Rally, launched in 2009, has grown from a regional challenge to a transcontinental trek. The inaugural race stretched from Kazan in Russia to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. By 2016, competitors were racing from Moscow all the way to Beijing, and the following year, the route extended to Xi’an, marking the starting point of the historical Silk Road.

The rally boasts impressive leadership, with racing legend Vladimir Chagin, a record-holder for Dakar victories, as director. Chagin is joined by Frederic Lequien, another motorsport celebrity who previously headed the Dakar Rally. This prestigious event has not only served as a platform for KAMAZ trucks, the main sponsor, but has also fostered stronger ties with China, which became a key part of the race route.

Leaked documents reveal a strategic plan called “The Silk Way Communication Platform,” dated December 9, 2021. This project aims to use cultural influence (soft power) and citizen-to-citizen connections to improve international cooperation. Interestingly, the document also mentions the rally’s role in supporting the Gazprom-CNPC pipeline project (Siberian Power 2) and even fostering political stability in Mongolia, though the specific methods are unclear.

An SWR document positions the Silk Way Rally as a neutral ground for citizen-level diplomacy (people-to-people exchanges) leveraging Russia’s influence (soft power) to strengthen relations between Russia, China, Iran, and several Central Asian countries like Qatar, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. The document also mentions plans to build hubs with secure 5G communication networks in each of these countries, along with storage facilities.

The same internal document clearly states the project’s geopolitical objectives in Russia’s interests:

  • Strengthening Russia’s regional position by facilitating the relations between Qatar, Iran, and Turkey
  • Influencing Saudi Arabia
  • Influencing Turkey through the Syrian component of the rally on all issues of interest to Russia, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Crimea, and Syria.
  • Offering the Taliban a roadmap to international legitimacy in exchange for recognition of Crimea as Russian territory.

Who Is Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov ?

In 2023, Bulat Yanborisov, who had established residency in Paris since 2014, was revealed to be a Russian intelligence officer (GRU agent). He was linked to Unit 29155, a GRU division known for assassinations. While posing as the director of the Silk Way Rally, Yanborisov maintained ties to the GRU. Phone records and documents link him to Rustam Dzhafarov, a confirmed GRU official from Unit 29155 who was also employed by the Silk Way Rally. Further evidence of his affiliation came in 2022 when Yanborisov received the Order of Alexander Nevsky from the deputy head of the GRU.

In Bulgaria, Bulat Akhatovich Yanborisov has a luxurious mansion in Sozopol .

Unit 29155 : Havana Syndrome

Havana Syndrome is a mysterious and controversial condition first reported by U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers stationed in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016. The symptoms include hearing strange noises, intense headaches, dizziness, nausea, cognitive difficulties, and memory loss. The peculiar nature and sudden onset of these symptoms led to widespread concern and speculation about potential causes.

Unit 29155, a covert operations group within Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU, has been linked to several high-profile and clandestine activities, including political assassinations and destabilization efforts. Speculation has emerged suggesting that Unit 29155 might be involved in the Havana Syndrome incidents. The theory posits that the unit could be using advanced technology to deploy directed energy or microwave weapons to incapacitate or disorient U.S. personnel as part of a broader strategy of espionage and psychological warfare.

While concrete evidence directly linking Unit 29155 to Havana Syndrome remains elusive, the mysterious nature of the condition and the GRU’s history of sophisticated covert operations fuel ongoing investigations and debates. Various scientific and medical investigations have explored potential explanations, ranging from sonic attacks to psychosomatic origins, but a definitive cause has yet to be confirmed. The intrigue surrounding Havana Syndrome and Unit 29155 underscores the complexities of modern intelligence conflicts and the shadowy world of espionage.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris - The Digital Bloodhound Alexander isn't your typical investigative journalist. He thrives in the digital world, scouring the web for hidden connections and leaked documents. An expert data analyst and coder, he builds intricate digital trails to expose fraud, cybercrime, and government overreach. Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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