Kazakh authorities have reportedly taken control of the Center for the Operation of Terrestrial Space Infrastructure operating in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Southern Kazakhstan, an area that the country leased to Russia.
The Bailiffs’ Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan states that the seized property is owned by the Center for the Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure (TsENKI), a subsidiary of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).
According to reports, Kazakhstan aims to recover the 13.5 billion tenge (2 billion rubles or $26.3 million) debt of Roscosmos due to the Baiterek Joint Kazakh-Russian Venture, which was a deal to create a Soyuz-5 rocket launch complex. APA reports that the debt “arose as a result of the work carried out in the direction of assessing the impact of the Soyuz-5 rocket on the environment.”
The seizure was ordered by the court of the Astana International Financial Center, with the writ of execution issued at the end of November 2022. It prevents the company from taking any of its assets at the spaceport out of Kazakhstan, and the head of TsENKI is also prohibited from leaving until the investigation is concluded.
Sources are scarce but several have said that the main reason for the seizure is that Roscosmos’ new head, Yuvi Borisov, allegedly criticized and made harsh statements on the delay of the project that was led by Deputy Minister of Communications of Kazakhstan Bagdat Musin.
While Musin points out that Borisov’s actions were a “diplomatic miscalculation,” the impact of the case on the relationship between the two countries is still unclear, but some speculate that this might cause Russia to pull out of the Baiterek joint venture.
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