Nearly $170mn Embezzled During Vostochny Cosmodrome Construction

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this week that a total of 11 billion rubles (about $169 million) were stolen during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s ambitious space port project, RIA Novosti reported.

Оnly 3.5 billion rubles ($53.8 million) were returned to the state coffers, Peskov said.

The spokesman was commenting on a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said on Monday that dozens of criminal cases and criminal convictions had failed to “put things in order” at the Vostochny spaceport’s construction site.

The Vostochny spaceport in the Amur Region in Russian Far East is the country’s first national civilian space center. The large-scale construction work to build the infrastructure and technical facilities started in 2012.

“The president heard a report, a comprehensive report on the Vostochny spaceport, which he cited as an example. This is consolidated information from various departments,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

According to Peskov, “at the first stage, 128 criminal cases were opened, which were later consolidated into 32 criminal cases and at the next stage the Investigative Committee singled out 21 cases and transferred them to the court of law and 18 persons were sentenced at the time,” Peskov said. “The Interior Ministry investigates 8 more cases,” he added.

Overall, “it was established that 11 billion rubles were stolen and 3.5 billion rubles were returned,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

“All in all, 91 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) were allocated for the spaceport’s construction, of which 66 billion rubles ($1.02 billion) have been spent by now and currently the construction of five out of 19 facilities has not been completed,” Peskov said.

The Vostochny spaceport’s construction was accompanied by numerous problems. According to the data of the Prosecutor General’s Office, a total of 17,000 various violations were exposed during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in 2014-2018 and 140 criminal cases were opened while total damage was estimated at 10 billion rubles ($150 million). Dozens of individuals were convicted under various counts of Russia’s Criminal Code, including the former head of Dalspetsstroi (the general contractor for the spaceport’s construction in 2009-2016) Yuri Khrizman.