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‘They keep stealing in hundreds of millions’: Putin outraged by ongoing fraud at Vostochny Cosmodrome construction

Dozens of people have already been put in prison over the massive embezzlement during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome, but somehow it hasn’t been enough to set things straight there, Vladimir Putin pondered.

The Russian president grilled the government for allowing misappropriation of state funds at the Vostochny Cosmodrome and other large-scale state construction projects on Monday. He reminded the ministers that it wasn’t the first time he has addressed the problem.

We’ve said it a hundred times – work transparently as big money is being allocated; it’s practically a national project. But no, they keep stealing in hundreds of millions!

Massive fraud during the construction of Vostochny saw “dozens of criminal cases being launched,” the president said. “The courts have already decided on some of them; people have been put in prison. But things haven’t been set straight there by now.”

RT

Putin tasked the prosecutor’s office and investigative bodies with “keeping a close eye” on the project, expressing hope that proper working order will be finally arranged at the ill-fated cosmodrome.

Russia began building Vostochny in the Far Eastern Amur Region on the Chinese border in 2012 to reduce the dependence of its space program from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan and is rented by Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, from the country.

A state-of-the-art space port is also paramount as Russia plans to retire its Proton heavy launch vehicles and replace them with modern and eco-friendly missiles. One of those is  Angara-A5, which is seen as the backbone of the Russian moon program, which aims to establish a permanent base on the Earth’s satellite and bring people there in the coming decades.

Also on rt.com Russian space workhorse Proton to retire in 2025 giving way to eco-friendly Angara rockets

But the Vostochny project was marred by corruption scandals, lengthy delays and protests by workers over unpaid salaries. A total of 11 billion rubles (around $172 million) have been embezzled during the construction, the Kremlin press-secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. Of this, 3.5 billion rubles (around $55 million) were later returned to the state budget, he added. 

Later that day, the press secretary said that Putin’s complaints “related to the earlier period” of Vostochny’s construction and had nothing to do with the current Roscosmos management.

The General Prosecutor’s office found 17,000 violations on site between 2014 and 2018, initiating some 140 criminal cases. More than 30 people were handed prison sentences since then, including the head of the Vostochny Cosmodrome’s primary contractor.

Also on rt.com Russia seeks to regain space glory with ambitious project & restoration of Soviet infrastructure

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