Corruption Cases Far Outnumber Launches at Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

We here at Parabolic Arc haven’t been writing too much lately about the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. It’s not so much from a lack of interest, but rather a lack of actual news to report.

Since the much heralded maiden launch of a Soyuz-2 booster in April 2016 from the spaceport designed to free Russia from dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, there have been no additional flights from the site in more than a year. As in none, zero, zilch, cero, nada, big goose egg.

But, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening at Vostochny. Construction crews continue to build out the spaceport, which will feature an additional launch pad for Russia’s rocket of the future, the Angara. This module family of rockets has flown only twice, most recently in December 2014.

While Vostochny has been decided short on launches, the corruption cases the facility has become notorious for — with their millions in missing rubles, unpaid workers and diamond-encrusted Mercedes — continue to pile up like cord wood.

Mikhail Kalinin, the former CEO of the state enterprise Glavnoye Voyenno-Stroitelnoye Upravleniye No. 9, is the latest to be arrested for allegedly lining his pockets at the expense of Russia’s hard-working taxpayers.

“Kalinin demanded 4 million rubles ($66,250) from a Krasnoyarsk businessman for assistance in concluding a subcontract for construction work at the Vostochny Cosmodrome,” Russia Crime reports. “The second criminal case against Mikhail Kalinin is connected with the appropriation of 10 million rubles for the construction of the spaceport.”

If my math is right, the 10 million rubles is equivalent to $165, 625, making Kalinin’s alleged haul from the two capers a cool $213,875.  Not bad work, if you can steal it.

Kalinin has pleaded not guilty, although he is willing to cooperate in the investigation.

  • JamesG

    Careful comrade. In Putin’s Russia, snarky reporter get polonium special.

  • HyperJ

    The question isn’t whether or not Kalinin took bribes. (That would sadly not be a surprise for Roscosmos contractors) The question is who he offended to be arrested for taking a bribe. If you are a friend of Putin, you can get away with anything, but if you are not…

  • OldCodger

    No danger there then, the Russians would never use Polonium to assassinate anyone in another country!

  • windbourne

    Seems like being a friend of Putin helps you out no matter the nation.

  • se jones

    It’s very disappointing that there has been virtually no coverage in the Western press of the payload on the maiden launch out of Vostochny . That Soyuz-2 successfully placed the magnificent Lomonosov high energy physics observatory into orbit. The Lomonosov with its huge TUS (Tracking Ultraviolet Set-up) Fresnel mirror, has been working perfectly since its launch into a 510 kilometer, sun-synchronous 98° orbit. The TUS together with the other Lomonosov instruments, has been rewriting the textbooks on extreme energy cosmic rays, X-ray and gamma-ray bursts, transient luminous events (aka upward lightning) and other fundamental astrophysical phenomena.

    The West won’t have a comparable science resource on orbit until the Extreme Universe Space Observatory [onboard] Japanese Experiment Module (JEM-EUSO) is attached to the ISS …well someday. If we’re lucky enough to survive the gross mismanagement by JAXA, the (once again) redesigned EUSO will be launched to ISS in a Dragon trunk. Eventually.