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Russia launches criminal probe into $6 mln Vostochny spaceport construction scam

April 24, 2015, 13:27 UTC+3 BLAGOVESHCHENSK
The construction of Russia's new space center has been marred by several scandals related to misappropriation of federal budget funds and delays in wage payments to builders
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Vostochny spaceport construction site

Vostochny spaceport construction site

© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, April 24. /TASS/. Investigators in the Amur Region in the Russian Far East have launched a criminal probe into the unlawful appropriation of 300 million rubles (about $6 million) allocated for the construction of the Vostochny spaceport, the regional interior department said on Friday.

The criminal case was opened on the charges of large-scale embezzlement, the interior department said.

According to a pre-investigation check, an agreement was signed in October 2014 between the client represented by the state special construction company and a contractor on fulfilling contractual work for building roads as part of the Vostochny cosmodrome infrastructure development, the interior department said.

"The client under the contract made an advance payment of 300 million rubles to the contractor. However, the contractor did not start work and did not return the advance payment," the interior department said, adding the investigation was continuing.

The construction of the Vostochny space center has been marred by several scandals related to misappropriation of federal budget funds and delays in wage payments to builders. Workers of construction companies recently went on a hunger strike demanding the payment of wage arrears.

The conflict was largely settled after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin visited the Vostochny cosmodrome construction site and the contractors’ work was placed under special control of Russian law-enforcement agencies.

The Vostochny (Eastern) spaceport is being built near the town of Uglegorsk in the Amur Region. The spaceport, which has been under construction since 2010, is scheduled to be built by November 30, 2015.

The Vostochny cosmodrome will comprise two launch platforms, an airfield, facilities for crew members’ pre-launch preparation, oxygen-nitrogen and hydrogen plants, 115 kilometers of roadway and 125 kilometers of rail track.

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