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Open letter reveals fourth Novosibirsk scientist hit with treason charges in last year
Valery Zvegintsev, a chief scientist at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the Russian Academy of Sciences’s Siberian branch, was arrested for treason earlier this year, according to an open letter in support of multiple Novosibirsk scientists accused of treason that was released on Monday.
The letter does not include the date of Zvegintsev’s arrest or the exact charges against him, but according to the local news outlet NGS, he was arrested on April 7. The Russian state news outlet TASS reported that Zvegintsev is currently under house arrest and that his arrest was prompted by an article on gas kinetics that he published in an Iranian academic journal. A source from the Russian Academy of Sciences told journalists that the article underwent two expert reviews to ensure it did not contain classified information.
The open letter also mentioned three other academics who have been charged with treason in the last year: Anatoly Maslov, a chief scientist at the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Institute; Alexander Shiplyuk, who heads the Institute; and Dmitry Kolker, a researcher at the city’s Institute of Laser Physics. Kolker, who had stage IV pancreatic cancer at the time of his arrest, died just days after he was taken into custody.
The letters’ authors emphasized that in all of the suspects’ cases, the materials the Russian authorities objected to were analyzed by expert committees multiple times for classified information and that none was found.
It’s not just the fate of our colleagues we’re concerned about. We simply don’t understand how to continue doing our work. [...] We see that any article or report can serve as a pretext for charges of state treason. The work we’re awarded for and lauded as examples for today becomes grounds for criminal prosecution tomorrow. In these circumstances, it’s simply impossible for our institute to work.
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