The plane RA-61712 arrived in Dagestan on the eve of the detention of the Republic’s high-ranking officials. Almost all its movements end up in sensational arrests.
Fontanka found an An-148 plane with the onboard number RA-61712, flights of which coincide with notable detentions and special operations of the FSB. In particular, first, this board flew to Dagestan on the eve of the detention of the interim prime minister of the republic, his deputies and the former minister of education.
The aircraft is part of the joint aviation detachment of the special forces of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). It is used by employees who carry out operational support and force maintenance of the most high-profile cases. The board, as a rule, arrives in the city, where it is planned to detain high-profile figures or suspected terrorists, on the eve of the events. Within a day, the special-purpose aircraft can fly several to destinations.
The information on the movements of the aircraft around the world is collected by the website Flightradar24. According to this source, the RA-61712 landed in Makhachkala at 15:50 on February 4. On the morning of February 5, FSB officers raided the Head of the Dagestani government, Abdusamad Hamidov, and another suspect in the case of embezzlement of budget funds in the republic. On the same day, the officials were taken to Moscow by the same plane.
In September 2015, the board RA-61712 flew to Syktyvkar, where the entire leadership of the Komi Republic was detained – its Head Vyacheslav Gayzer, his deputy Alexey Chernov, vice-premier Konstantin Romadanov and chairman of the State Council Igor Kovzel.
In March 2017, during the investigation into the smuggling of firearms from the United States, the aircraft flew through Yoshkar-Ola, Novosibirsk, Chita and Irkutsk. In every city, detentions took place. On May 23, 2017, the plane flew to Bishkek, after which the FSB reported on the detention of four suspects in terrorism. Less than a week after this, on May 29, the board went to Simferopol, where the former head of the Crimean Agriculture Ministry, Anatoly Avidzba, was detained on suspicion of taking a bribe of $40.000.
At the end of January 2018, the aircraft flew to Kaluga. A few days after this, journalist Pavel Nikulin was questioned in the FSB as a witness in the case of training for the purpose of carrying out Terrorist Activities (Art. 205.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Nikulin interviewed a resident of Kaluga, who went to fight in Syria.
It is reported that the FSB purchased the aircraft in 2015. The special service has another aircraft of the same model – RA61707. Both were built for the Myanmar air force, but the customer canceled the contract after the same board crashed during the test flight. Aviation forums write that FSB aircraft do not fit Russian civil aviation because of the export design and lack of additional certification.