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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sedmoi Kontinent Owner Preparing to Fly to Space

An owner of the Sedmoi Kontinent supermarket chain has signed a $20 million contract to become the first Russian space tourist, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Vladimir Gruzdev, a State Duma deputy with the United Russia faction, signed the contract in July, the report said, citing a source close to the Federal Space Agency.

A source in Energia, which trains cosmonauts, confirmed to the newspaper that a United Russia deputy had undergone medical tests to determine whether he was fit to fly but refused to identify him.

Gruzdev, 40, was one of several submariners who descended to the ocean floor at the North Pole last month to plant a Russian flag.

Federal Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov told reporters Friday that a young businessman and politician would become the first Russian space tourist, but declined to identify him.

Gruzdev could fly as early as September 2008.

Gruzdev plans to run for the Duma on United Russia's ticket in December elections, Vedomosti said. His obligations as a deputy would not conflict with the planned flight, however, because space tourists spend less than two weeks in orbit before coming back to Earth.

The usual tour of duty for cosmonauts is six months.