The Vostochny Follies: Another Year, Another Hunger Strike

As Russia unveiled a fancy new 2,000 ruble banknotes featuring the Vostochny Cosmodrome this week, some of the construction workers at the spaceport were dealing with all-too-familiar problem: not getting any banknotes at all.

Construction workers at Russia’s Far East spaceport are staging a hunger strike for the third year in a row demanding salaries that they haven’t received in six months….

Six construction workers at Vostochny’s lead contractor announced a hunger strike starting Friday over wages unpaid since April, the Vostokmedia news website reported Friday.

The workers belong to SDS-733, a subsidiary of the contractor formerly known as Dalspetsstroy and currently called GVSU No.6.

There were originally 15 construction workers planning to forego food until their arrears were paid, one of the SDS-733 directors told Vostokmedia.

GVSU No.6 is in bankruptcy protection and missed a September deadline to sell off its assets to repay $4.7 million to its unpaid workers, including $2.9 million to employees in the Khabarovsky region where SDS-733 is located.

Unpaid wages have been a perennial problem at the trouble spaceport, where allegations of corruption and embezzlement have been rampant. The head of one company was allegedly arrested driving a diamond encrusted Mercedes. In another incident, workers painted a message on the roof of their residence building pleading to President Valdimir Putin for help in obtaining their back wages.

The news of yet another hunger strike over unpaid wages comes a week after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin posted a slick promotional video about Vostochny and talked up plans to ramp up launches and expand the new spaceport.

Rogozin is deputy head of the Military-Industrial Commission and oversees Russia’s space program for Putin.