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More than $150 million embezzled during construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome

A Soyuz-2.1a rocket awaits its launch at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Photo Credit: Roscosmos.

A Soyuz-2.1a rocket awaits its launch at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Photo Credit: Roscosmos.

Recent information revealed by Russian prosecutors provide insight into the scale of corruption during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East. According to the prosecutor general’s office, over $150 million has been embezzled in construction of the spaceport since 2014.

“Since 2014, more than 140 criminal cases have been opened, and the damage was assessed at 10 billion rubles [$152.3 million],” said the official spokesman for the prosecutor general’s office Alexander Kurennoy in an interview, according to Tass.

The spokesman revealed that prosecutors uncovered some 17,000 law violations during construction since 2014. Besides embezzlement, among the violations were delayed construction and administration negligence.

According to Kurennoy, as a result of investigation, over 1,000 people have been held accountable and 50 individuals have been sentenced. Only this year, 78 law violations were found, 14 companies and officials were held accountable, and sentences for 27 people were announced. He said that since the beginning of 2018, 23 million rubles ($350,000) were returned to the state.

The construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome began in 2011 and has been disrupted many times by financial problems, corruption scandals, technical difficulties and even by a workers strike. More recently, in February 2018, Yury Khrizman, the former head of Dalspetsstroy, a major state contractor responsible for the construction of Vostochny, was sentenced to jail for mass corruption, along with several other ex-employees. The investigation estimated the damage to Roscosmos to be about $91.6 million.

Russia sees Vostochny Cosmodrome as a strategic spaceport for the Russian space program. It is expected to reduce the country’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is currently on lease to Russia until 2050 at a cost of approximately $115 million per year.

Currently, only one pad is operational, Site 1S, which has seen three orbital missions so far. The construction of a second pad, designated Site 1A, started in September 2018. It will be used Angara rocket launches and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

 

 

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Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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