Thursday, May 18, 2023, May 18, 2023 WIB
Last Updated 2023-05-18T10:11:59Z

Russia Jails 3 Hypersonic Missile Scientists for Treason

Russia throws 3 of its hypersonic missile scientists in jail for treason. Photo/Russian Ministry of Defense via REUTERS

MOSCOW - Russian authorities have arrested and imprisoned three scientists who were working on the development of hypersonic missiles. They have been accused of committing treason over the past year.

The arrests were revealed by their colleagues in an open letter published last Monday. This comes as Russia is relying on hypersonic missiles in its war in Ukraine.

Members of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Siberian Branch have warned that this issue poses a risk to Russia's progress in hypersonic technology.

"We really do not understand how to continue our expertise," wrote the scientists.

The institution stated that its members, Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk, and Valery Zvegintsev, were detained on charges of treason due to speaking at a foreign conference, publishing articles in a popular magazine, and participating in an international project.

Maslov and Shiplyuk were reportedly arrested in the summer of 2022.

Zvegintsev's arrest had not been previously reported. He was identified as the founder of a laboratory related to hypersonic technology.

Siberian media reported that the Novosibirsk court ruled to place Zvegintsev in pre-trial detention on April 7th.

The cases of treason in Russia are shrouded behind closed doors as they deal with what the authorities consider as classified information. Those found guilty face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The RAS scientists argue in their open letter that their colleagues were accused despite rigorous peer review and inspections for "limited information."

"But the investigative body relies on different opinions for expertise. Who are these experts? What is their professional level?" they asked.

"We see that any article or report can become a basis for a charge of conspiracy. What we value and take as an example today becomes the cause of criminal prosecution tomorrow," they continued, as quoted by The Moscow Times on Thursday (18/5/2023).

According to the RAS Siberia members, these and other cases targeting Russian scientists have a terrible effect on young researchers.

"The decline in research levels due to aging scientists and disrupted continuity of generations of experts will gradually become irreversible and fast," they said.

"We think this problem requires an immediate solution; otherwise, it may be impossible to prevent the disaster hanging over domestic aerodynamics."

On Wednesday, the Kremlin described the espionage charges against the three scientists as "serious treason," but refused to provide further details.

"We have seen this appeal in the open letter, but the Russian special services are doing their job," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to journalists.