Putin Blames Russian Rocket Scientists For Patriot Interception And Sent Them To Penal Colony for Treason

This photo illustration by Newsweek shows Alexander Kuranov (inset), who headed the Scientific Research Enterprise of Hypersonic Systems (NIPGS). He was arrested in 2021 and on April 18, 2024 got a seven-year jail sentence on charges of high treason.

Vladimir Putin has boasted about Russia’s hypersonic missile capability, but working on the program that flexes Moscow’s military might is fraught with risk, following the latest jailing of a scientist involved in its research.

In March 2018, Putin boasted to Russian lawmakers how the missiles, which are faster and more agile than standard ones, were “super weapons.” Among them is the Kh-47 Kinzhal (“Dagger”), which Russia has used to strike Ukrainian cities in its full-scale invasion.

However, a number of scientists have been detained in what are thought to be politically motivated arrests linked to the missile program, including Alexander Kuranov, who was handed a seven-year sentence this week.

Yevgeny Smirnov, a lawyer who represented some of the defendants, told BBC Russian in February that the FSB intelligence agency informed him each accusation was reported to Putin in cases that aimed “to show that Russian missiles are the best.”

Here are some of those who have fallen afoul of the authorities for working in the highly sensitive area of Russia’s military-industrial complex:

Alexander Kuranov

Kuranov was sentenced on Thursday to seven years in a maximum-security colony following his conviction of treason in contravention of Russia’s Article 275 of the Criminal Code, a charge faced by more than a dozen other scientists.

The City Court of St. Petersburg also handed out a 100,000-ruble ($1,100) fine to Kuranov. He is a former general director and chief designer of the St. Petersburg Research Enterprise for Hypersonic Systems (NIPGS), who had been held in custody since August 2021.

Kuranov had taken part in the development of the Ajax (Ayaks) hypersonic aircraft and written articles and patents linked to missiles, as well as participating in seminars in which he cooperated with other experts from the U.S. and from China.

Alexander Shiplyuk

Director of the Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) in Novosibirsk Siberia, Alexander Shiplyuk was arrested in August 2022.

Shiplyuk is an expert in high-speed air and gas dynamics. He had written articles published in foreign journals and co-edited a book published by the American Institute of Physics.

Stuart Laurence, associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland, told Reuters he met Shiplyuk at a conference and was “pretty sure” Shiplyuk would have been handling state secrets at ITAM.

Valery Zvegintsev, Vladislav Galkin

Zvegintsev was a chief researcher at ITAM who was arrested on April 7, 2023.

Between 1995 and 2000, Zvegintsev headed a research group at ITAM that studied combustion in gas flows, while in 2001 founded a lab at ITAM focused on high-speed air and gas dynamics.

Like his colleagues, Zvegintsev traveled abroad to conferences and published in international peer-reviewed journals. TASS reported that his arrest was linked to an article on gas dynamics he wrote, which was published in an Iranian journal.

His co-author, associate professor of Tomsk Polytechnic University Vladislav Galkin, was also detained.

Anatoly Maslov

Maslov is a physicist, chief researcher at ITAM and professor, whose research in viscous gas dynamics examines how gases move around physical objects, like missiles and jets during supersonic flights.

He was arrested on June 28, 2022 in Novosibirsk, accused of divulging state secrets related to hypersonics, according to an interview his sons Nikolai and Alexei gave to local media.

Maslov regularly attended conferences abroad and published in journals and collaborated with Shiplyuk and Zvegintsev on at least one occasion, co-authoring a book chapter published in 2016.

Anatoly Gubanov

Gubanov, from Moscow’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), was arrested in December 2020 accused of passing materials to colleagues in the Netherlands whom he worked with on the HEXAFLY-INT, a hypersonic airliner.

Russian authorities said Gubanov had conspired with his colleague and fellow physicist Valery Golubkin, who was also employed on the project and arrested on treason charges in April 2021.

Gubanov pleaded guilty and asked for a penalty below the minimum sentence of 12 years, which was denied on October 27, 2023.

Valery Golubkin

Golubkin was employed on the same project as Gubanov and arrested on treason charges in April 2021. Golubkin denied the charges against him, but was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June 2023.

The Perviy Otdel human rights project said that reports passed by Gubanov and Golubkin to their Dutch colleagues had been examined by three specialized commissions prior to submission, and none of them contained state secrets.

Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Roman Kovalyov, Dmitry Kolker

Kudryavtsev, a physicist with the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (TsNIIMash) in the Moscow region, faced a treason case following his arrest July 2018 on suspicion of passing classified data on hypersonic technology to a research group in Belgium.

In April 2021, Kudryavtsev died of lung cancer at the age of 77 before he could stand trial, according to Russian media.

Kovalyov, a former senior official at the same institute, was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in June 2020 on a high-treason charge that he and his supporters rejected. He died in April 2022 of cancer.

Meanwhile, in July 2022, Kolker, a 54-year-old Russian physicist head of the Laboratory of Quantum Optical Technologies of Novosibirsk State University, died in custody after being flown to Moscow while he was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The previous month, Kolker had been arrested on suspicion of passing information to China. “The FSB murdered my father,” his son, Maksim Kolker, wrote on Russian social media platform VKontakte at the time.

© 2024, GDC. © GDC and www.globaldefensecorp.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to www.globaldefensecorp.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.