Putin Appoints Hardline Deputy PM to Clean Up Russia’s Bumbling Space Sector

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has been tasked with overseeing Russia’s accident-prone space sector and corruption-riddled military procurement process.

The AP reports that Rogozin, a nationalist politician who previously served as Russia’s NATO ambassador, has vowed to use an “iron hand” to fight corruption in the defense industry and to make sure that “every ruble, every kopeck” is used as planned. According to one estimate, 1 in 5 rubles spent in the defense sector is lost to theft and fraud.

Rogozin said he expects a report from Roscosmos on Thursday concerning the cause of the Dec. 23 failure of a Soyuz launch vehicle, which sent debris raining down on Siberia. It was the seven launch failure in the past 13 months.

In appointing Rogozin to oversee the space sector, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hinted at what might be causing the slew of failures that the space program has experienced over the past year.

According to the head of government [Putin], after military acceptance inspection was cancelled many things have changed for the worse. “It does not mean we must get back to the former regulation instruments but its is absolutely obvious that the existing instruments are not enough,” he added.

Rogozin’s new job was previously held by Sergei Ivanov, who public attacked defense sector corruption and Roscomos’ failures with little discernible effect. Ivanov has moved on to become Kremlin chief of staff. He replaces Sergei Naryshkin, who is is now the speaker of the newly elected Parliament.

Rogozin, 48, has just completed a four-year stint in Brussels as ambassador to NATO, where he fought against efforts to bring Ukraine into the Western military alliance. In his 2008 book, Enemy of the People, he wrote of his admiration for Josef Stalin and in favor of restoring Russian control over former Soviet republics. During the 2006 Duma campaign, he compared Muslim migrant workers to garbage.