Andrew Osborn



Chief Russia Correspondent


Deputy Bureau Chief Russia/CIS





Russian bloggers sneak into missile engine testing facility, 9th January 2012 17:26

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

Russia's military industrial complex has been left embarrassed after a group of bloggers snuck into a highly sensitive rocket engine testing facility just outside Moscow and published almost one hundred photographs of their exploits on the internet.

The security breach angered Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister in charge of the defence industry, who ordered new security measures to be in place at Russia's military and space-related factories by the end of January.

"Basic and sufficiently strict order is going to be introduced," he said.

Referring to the intruding bloggers as "cheeky mice", he promised to punish any officials found guilty of allowing similar security breaches in future.

"Sleepy cats will be made an example of in future if they do not take the necessary measures."

The embarrassing incident occurred at a missile engine testing facility just north of Moscow overseen by Russian company Energia which makes engines for Russia's space and military programmes.

A young Russian blogger calling herself Lana Sator and two friends claimed to have snuck into the plant on five successive nights through a hole in the fence in December and to have found it completely unguarded.

The facility dates back to the Soviet-era and although neglected is clearly still actively used in the development of missile engines.

The pictures taken by the bloggers reveal an extraordinary Cold War-era facility that looks like something out of a science fiction film with giant turbines, tunnels, tubes, Soviet emblems and a bomb shelter.

Lana Sator, the blogger, said she was questioned by the police, warned not to re-enter the facility, and fined a paltry 300 roubles, which is the equivalent of about six pounds. She was also asked to point out the hole in the fence that she and her friends crawled through.

It was not the first time she and her friends had entered such a facility and it appears from her blog to be a regular hobby. She claimed her aim was to increase awareness about security. "I really want to believe that the quality of security at really important and necessary facilities will be improved," she wrote. An official at Energia told the daily Izvestia newspaper that the company was aware of the security breach. "We have only been working there for a year and we inherited the fence with holes in it," the official said. "We really regret what happened but in order to make the fence good we need money and the company is not in such a good financial state right now."