The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) on Monday sent to the RF Economic Development Ministry materials on the dismissal from office of Director General of JSC Russian Space Systems (RSS) Yuri Urlichich, Roskosmos head Vladimir Popovkin announced. In early November, the RF Interior Ministry reported that embezzlement worth 6.5 billion roubles was exposed in the company that was committed during the development of the GLONASS satellite navigation system. In addition, it has become known that a criminal case in connection with the RSS embezzlement had initiated in the summer of 2012, however then it was concerning the sum of 565 million roubles. By November the sum grew to several billion roubles.
The Kommersant daily has learnt that Roskosmos recommended Urlichich’s deputy Vladimir Cheremisin for the post of the acting head of the corporation. He will be a temporary figure – as an outside director who will be able to “put its finances in order” is to be appointed in the company.
Popovkin said that materials on the dismissal of Urlichich from the post of RSS Director – General Designer have been sent to the Ministry of Economic Development, the newspaper writes. According to Popovkin, it has been done “to prevent outside interference with the investigation activities.” “We have appointed our commission, which has worked in RSS,” the Roskosmos head said on Monday. “There we have found the misuse of 565 million roubles.”
Cheremisin is Urlichich’s deputy – he is responsible in RSS for designing space systems and space vehicles. “This appointment is temporary, because we need time to find a suitable candidate,” a source in Roskosmos told the newspaper. “Absolutely, it would be an outsider who can put the company’s finances in order.”
According to the publication, the GLONASS embezzlement case can affect the career of Roskosmos deputy head Anatoly Shilov who for a long time supervised the satellite system project from the side of the customer. “A probe that will show the degree of responsibility of officials of the space agency is underway,” a source close to the leadership of Roskosmos said.
The Novye Izvestia daily explains that the disgraced RSS head was at the forefront of the GLONASS global positioning system, which is the pride of President Vladimir Putin. However, he was in opposition to the head of Roskosmos, Vladimir Popovkin. Since the summer of 2011, the mutual accusations of corruption were made, but the struggle was more at the information level.
However, the resignation of RF Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, according to Novye Izvestia, has introduced changes to the struggle between RSS and the Russian Space Agency, it became clear that the issue assumed serious dimensions.
After Serdyukov, Popovkin’s resignation seemed inevitable, however, his opponent Urlichich fell into disgrace . On top of that, Vladimir Putin simultaneously dismissed the head of the Supervisory Board of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, Dmitry Rogozin – who played, in the view of some experts, the key role in the fall of Serdyukov. They were in a state of acute conflict over financial flows in the state defence order.
“This is a kind of cadre imbalance,” Investkafe analyst Andrei Shenk commented to the newspaper on the staff news. “The thing is that Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin and former Defence Minister Serdyukov are people from different circles and, therefore, in order not to increase the influence of certain structures, the permutation and replacement of ‘neutral’ people is underway almost in all departments.”
Expert at the Centre for Political Trends Dmitry Abzalov sees in the developments the continuation of the conflict between RSS and the Russian Space Agency, as well as the redistribution of resources within the framework of the GLONASS project.