Vedomosti quoted an unnamed source close to the Russian Space Agency as saying that a $20 million contract with Gruzdev, 40, from the United Russia pro-presidential party and co-owner of the Seventh Continent grocery store chain, was signed in July and that the speaker of the Russian parliament's lower house, Boris Gryzlov, backed him.
An unnamed official from the Russian space corporation Energia confirmed that Gryzlov had sent a letter to Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov, and that a United Russia member and businessman had undergone medical tests in the summer, and had received approval for a flight to the International Space Station. The official said the flight would cost around $25 million.
In early August, Russian researchers, including Gruzdev, dived 4,200 meters (14,000 feet) below the Pole in two submersibles to gather scientific evidence to bolster the country's claim to a vast swathe of Arctic territory, planting a titanium Russian flag on the seafloor. The mission attracted criticism from rival Arctic nations.
Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries - the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Russia - each have a claim to a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.
Gruzdev, who will be the world's sixth space tourist, told Vedomosti in April about his plans to become a space tourist, but refused to comment about any possible flight when asked by the newspaper Friday. Initial reports state the flight will take place in September 2008.
Earlier, Anatoly Perminov said a well-known businessman and politician would become the next space tourist, but refused to name him saying he wished to remain anonymous.
According to Forbes magazine, Gruzdev's wealth is estimated at $820 million (79th place). He and Alexander Zanadvorov equally control 7K Invest Holding that owns 74.81% of the Seventh Continent stock, and 99.46% of the MKapital open joint stock company, which owns part of the grocery chain's real estate.