Local Businessman Arrested for Embezzling $400k in Vostochny Cosmodrome Project

A court in Blagoveshchensk, a city in Russia’s Far East, has ordered detention for Anton Novikov, CEO of LEO TELECOM company, a contractor of Vostochny Cosmodrome, as part of a 26-million-ruble embezzlement case (about $400,000), Novaya Gazeta reported.

According to the Blagoveshchensk City Court’s press service, Novikov misappropriated nearly $400,000 belonging to the Operation Center of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities between August and December 2017. He was charged with swindling and could face up to 10 years behind bars if convicted.

Novikov was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport when he attempted to board a flight to Vietnam while holding a one-way ticket.

The court found that with a softer preventive measure, Novikov would be able to evade interrogation, exert pressure on subordinates passing by witnesses in the case, and also destroy or hide evidence from the investigation. He will be placed in detention until February 28.

The construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, due to become Russia’s main space launch site, began in 2012. After years of delays, construction mishaps and outrageous corruption scandals, new premier space launch facility, the facility saw the first successful flight of commercial payloads aboard a Soyuz 2.1A rocket last month. It was the fourth flight of a Soyuz 2-type rocket from Vostochny since the cosmodrome’s first launch in April 2016 and the third successful launch overall.