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Designer of Glonass Navigation System Sacked

RIA Novosti

19:12 11/11/2012

MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti) – The chief designer or Russia’s scandal-hit Glonass satellite navigation system, Yury Urlichich, was fired from his job, a spokeswoman for Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday.

The decision was made by the government’s military-industrial commission, which is headed by Rogozin, the spokeswoman said.

Russia’s rival to GPS was rocked by fraud allegations earlier this month, with the Interior Ministry accusing unnamed Glonass officers of embezzling 6.5 billion rubles ($200 million) of program’s funds.

The crackdown on Glonass was backed on Sunday by head of the Kremlin administration, Sergei Ivanov, an ex-Defense Minister and alleged Rogozin ally who said that the investigation into the Glonass fraud was ongoing since 2010.

No charges were reported against Urlichich or other Glonass makers as of late Sunday.

The case comes hot on the heels of a reshuffle at the Defense Ministry, whose head Anatoly Serdyukov was sacked last week. The official reason for dismissal was a fraud case against his subordinates, but most analysts attributed it to his defeat in a turf war against Rogozin.

The Glonass program was in the works since the 1970s, but underwent a radical revamp in 2001. The 24 satellites comprising the system were put into orbit by 2010, though not after several costly malfunctions and launch failures. The program cost 140 billion rubles ($4.4 billion) to implement, and its budget for 2012-2020 stands at a further 326 billion rubles ($10 billion).

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