Russia's deputy premier visits space center, promises to pay back wages by weekend

A senior Russian official has visited a space center under construction and has promised to pay back wages to workers by the weekend.

Russian investigators have opened a corruption probe into the Vostochny Cosmodrome project where workers have gone unpaid for months and have appealed to President Vladimir Putin for help.

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Vostochny, under construction in a remote area in the Far East, is a priority project that will give Russia its own facility for manned space launches and ease its reliance on a launch pad in Kazakhstan.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday that 58 million rubles (about $1 million) in wages is to be paid by April 30.

Putin, in a tightly scripted call-in show earlier this month, promised that the workers would get their overdue wages.

On Monday, the regional prosecutor's office said criminal charges have been filed against the head of one of the project's contractors, Roman Suvorov, for failing to pay around 16 million rubles ($320,000) since the beginning of the year.