AMUR OBLAST, Russia, April 29 (UPI) -- Russia has jailed the former director of a construction company involved in building the Vostochny Cosmodrome, the country's brand new spaceport.
Igor Nesterenko was sentenced to three years and three months in a labor camp on charges of fraud, the RBC newspaper reported Friday.
While working at the Pacific Ocean bridge-building company, Nesterenko stole nearly $1.6m, a court in Russia's far east concluded. He was arrested after workers complained to President Vladimir Putin about unpaid wages during a phone-in on state television. Last year dozens of construction workers went on strike at Vostochny, saying that they were owed money.
Four other people involved in the project have also been arrested. Putin has promised that those responsible for crimes during the construction won't escape responsibility.
"If their guilt is proven, they will have to change their warm beds at home for plank-beds in prison," he warned.
In July 2015, Russia's Prosecutor General Yury Chaika estimated that $117 million had been embezzled during construction of Vostochny. Several companies are being investigated.
It was Putin who came up with the idea to build a new space port on Russian soil to avoid any potential political risks of using the old Soviet launch center at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
He watched the first rocket launch on Thursday in the Amur region, near the Russian-Chinese border, 3,500 miles east of Moscow.
The historic moment had to be postponed for 24 hours after a last-minute technical hitch delayed the Soyuz 2.1a, carrying three satellites into orbit.
As a result, Putin officially reprimanded Roscosmos head Igor Komarov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the country's space industry.