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Canadian Russian pleads guilty to exporting technology to Russia

Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on Oct. 17, 2022. (Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters - image credit)
Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on Oct. 17, 2022. (Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters - image credit)

A Canadian Russian woman has pleaded guilty for her role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to send electronics to Russia for military use in the war against Ukraine.

Kristina Puzyreva, who has lived in Montreal, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., to money-laundering conspiracy for helping to send pieces used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and guided missile systems in violation of export and sanctions laws, according to a statement from American prosecutors on Monday.

Puzyreva, 32, her husband, Nikolay Goltsev, 37, and Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, 52, were each charged last fall with smuggling, conspiracy to violate sanctions and wire fraud conspiracy.

The court filings alleged Puzyreva, Goltsev and Nasriddinov were working with four unnamed co-conspirators based in Russia who work for major electronics companies that supply components to the Russian military.

The cases against Goltsev and Nasriddinov are ongoing, authorities said Monday.

Couple operated out of Montreal, records show

An indictment filed in November said Goltsev bought American electronic components for the Russian military for years while living in Canada.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Puzyreva was "a key part of the plan, laundering proceeds from the scheme to evade sanctions and ship UAV and missile components to Russia that were later found on the battlefield in Ukraine."

Puzyreva did business through an electronics company based in Montreal, Simatech Group Inc., which also bought what's known as dual-use technology — tech that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

She received more than 150 packages at her Canadian address from American companies over roughly five years, prosecutors said.

Court records said Goltsev "served as an account manager and purchasing co-ordinator for Electronic Network, Inc.," another Montreal-based company, which is under sanction by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

U.S. authorities said the scheme began in January 2022 and eventually involved more than 300 illegal shipments valued at about $10 million.

Some of the electronics were later recovered from helicopters, missiles, tanks and other Russian equipment that had been seized in Ukraine, they added.