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Four Sentenced For Wrongdoing Connected To New Russian Cosmodrome

A rocket launches from the Vostochny Cosmodrome
A rocket launches from the Vostochny Cosmodrome

A Russian court has sentenced the head of a construction company to 12 years in prison after convicting him of wrongdoing during the construction of the country’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The Far East District Military Court on February 26 also ordered Yury Khrizman to pay a fine of 1.5 million rubles ($26,400) after convicting him on embezzlement and financial mishandling charges.

Three co-defendants – Khrizman’s son Mikhail, his ex-chief bookkeeper Vladimir Akhikhmin, and former local lawmaker Viktor Chudov -- were sentenced to prison terms ranging between 5 1/2 and seven years.

Vostochny, in the Far Eastern Amur region near the Chinese border, is intended to reduce Russia's dependence on the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for manned launches. But the project has been dogged by reports of corruption, as several people involved in the planning and construction of the facility were arrested on embezzlement and fraud charges in recent years.

In the spring of 2015, workers went on strike at the facility over unpaid wages.

The first launch from the Vostochny facility took place in April 2016, after a one-day delay caused by a technical glitch that angered President Vladimir Putin, who was present for the launch. The launch was successful, but one of the satellites put into orbit by the rocket soon stopped functioning.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax