Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Former Vostochny Cosmodrome Construction Boss Sentenced to Jail for Mass Fraud

Yury Khrizman during the trial. Photo Credit: TASS.

Yury Khrizman, the former head of Dalspetsstroy, a major state contractor responsible for the construction of Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for mass corruption.

TASS press agency reports that Khrizman, along with several other ex-employees of Dalspetsstroy (the Far Eastern branch of Russia’s Federal Agency for Special Construction), was found guilty of wrongdoing during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

"The court hereby finds Khrizman guilty under Part 3 of Section 285 of Russia’s Criminal Code and Part 4 of Section 160 and sentences him to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million rubles ($26,400)," Judge Andrei Vakhnenko of the Far Eastern District Military Court said on Monday.

Besides Khrizman, three other people were also found guilty of abuse of office and embezzlement. According to Interfax, Vladimir Ashikhmin, the former chief accountant of Dalspetsstroy received seven years in prison, Viktor Chudov, a local deputy, received six years in a penal colony and Mikhail Khrizman (the son of Yury Khrizman) was sentenced to five and a half years in jail.

Moreover, the court also ordered the convicts to pay 5.16 billion rubles ($91 million) in favor of Roscosmos.

The convicts are going to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Russia.

"An appeal will be filed. We will go as high as the Supreme Court," declared Igor Anisimov, a lawyer for Yury Khrizman.

Criminal cases against the four convicts were launched in 2014-2015. The investigation estimated the damage to Roscosmos at 5.2 billion rubles ($91.6 million). The trial in the Far Eastern District Military Court in Khabarovsk started in May 2016. The hearings were held behind closed doors because some evidence involved state secrets.

Russia sees Vostochny Cosmodrome as a strategic spaceport for the Russian space program. It is expected to reduce the country’s dependency on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, currently on lease to Russia until 2050. This costs Russia approximately $115 million per year.

The construction of Vostochny has been disrupted many times by financial problems, corruption scandals, technical difficulties, and even by a workers strike. Maiden orbital flight from this spaceport was conducted on April 28, 2016, when Soyuz-2.1a rocket delivered a trio of Russian satellites into space.

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