Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Putin slams Roscosmos for continuing corruption at Vostochny

At a meeting yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted Roscosmos for the corruption at the new spaceport at Vostochny, noting that despite the prosecution of numerous individuals the criminal behavior continues.

Russian President Putin said at a government meeting on Monday that dozens of criminal cases and jailings had failed to stem theft at the Vostochny spaceport construction site….

“It has been stated a hundred times: you must work transparently because large funds are allocated. This project is actually of the national scope! But, despite this, hundreds of millions, hundreds of millions [of rubles] are stolen! Several dozen criminal cases have been opened, the courts have already passed verdicts and some are serving their prison terms. However, things have not been put in order there the way it should have been done,” the Russian president said.

This article notes that out of $1.4 billion allocated for the spaceport, $169 million has been stolen. It does not however provide any details about any new corruption. Instead, it outlines the investigations and prosecutions that have already taken place.

According to Peskov, “at the first stage, 128 criminal cases were opened, which were later consolidated into 32 criminal cases and at the next stage the Investigative Committee singled out 21 cases and transferred them to the court of law and 18 persons were sentenced at the time,” Peskov said. “The Interior Ministry investigated 8 more cases,” he added.

Either Roscosmos officials revealed to Putin newly discovered corruption that the state-run press has been forbidden to discuss, or Putin’s criticism was aimed to discouraging future corruption.

Either way, Vostochny remains a typical government boondoggle. It has cost Russia far more than it should, and construction has been slow, beginning officially in 2012, though Russia has been working on it in fits and starts since the mid-2000s.

Putin dumps Rogozin

In a reshuffle of cabinet positions, Putin has replaced Dmitri Rogozin, putting a new man in charge of the Russian defense and space industry.

The new guy, Yuri Borisov, appears to have the title of Vice Prime Minister. I suspect Putin had grown tired of the continuing corruption and loss of market share under Rogozin’s watch during the past decade. I also suspect that Borisov will have little ability to change things. The problem isn’t the person in charge. The problem is Russia’s centralized top-down method of operations. It discourages competition and cost control, while providing no incentives for innovation and quality control.

Putin threatens management at Vostochny with criminal prosecution

In a statement today in the Russian press Vladimir Putin proposed initiating a criminal investigation into the management of the new Vostochny spaceport.

[Putin] admitted that “although the project is in the focus of our special attention, problems abound. … I will have to hand over some issues to law enforcement agencies to get them sorted out and clarified,” Putin said. Funding is provided regularly but the funding procedure itself needs special attention, he said, referring to “quasi and semi-criminal schemes”.

It appears that funds have not been used as efficiently as he likes and his solution is to threaten prosecution of those involved. This is becoming a standard Putin technique. He used it to guarantee his control over the Russian aerospace company Energia, and now he is using it here to guarantee the Vostochny project moves forward fast and efficiently.

Its use also illustrates the limitations of Russia’s top down approach to everything. Such threats can prevent corruption in a specific project, but that such treats are necessary so frequently points out how easily such corruption grows in a government-run centralized bureaucracy. We see it here in the U.S. as well. Take away the profit motive and private ownership and there remains nothing to naturally focus the efforts of management towards success and efficiency.

Vladimir Putin, space cadet

Two news stories today demonstrate without question that Russia’s newly reorganized aerospace industry and its project to build a new spaceport are not merely the efforts of mid-level bureaucrats in that aerospace industry.

No, these efforts have been instituted and are being pushed at the very top of the Russian government, by Vladmir Putin himself. It appears that he has decided, or has always believed, that Russia deserves a strong and vibrant space program, run from Moscow, and is doing everything he can to make it happen, as part of his personal vision for Russia.

The first story described a visit on Tuesday that Putin made to Russia’s new space port, Vostochny, in the far eastern end of Russia. While there he noted that construction is several months behind schedule and that this slack must be made up. He then endorsed the proposal put to him by space agency officials that the number of people working on construction should be doubled.

The second story described Putin’s endorsement of the construction of a new Russian heavy lift rocket, capable of putting 150 tons into orbit. Such a rocket would be comparable in power to the largest version of the U.S.’s SLS rocket, not due to be launched, if ever, until the 2020s.
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