Russia Accuses Leading Arctic Scientist of Spying for China
(Bloomberg) -- Russia has accused one of its top Arctic scientists of passing state secrets to China, the latest case of an academic falling foul of the security services over foreign contacts.
Investigators say Valery Mitko, president of Russia’s Arctic Academy of Sciences and a visiting professor at China’s Dalian Maritime University, handed secret information to Chinese special services, his lawyer Ivan Pavlov said by phone. Mitko, 78, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, denies the charges.
The allegations of spying against academics highlight competition between Russia and China even after the two began to develop a strategic partnership in response to rising tensions with the West.
Mitko was detained in February and placed under house arrest after being accused of taking a document containing state secrets with him on a 2018 lecture visit to China, Pavlov said. All the information the St. Petersburg scientist took out of Russia came from open sources and he never met with Chinese intelligence, according to his lawyer.
Federal Security Service investigators accuse Mitko, an expert in hydroacoustics, of passing on information about technology for detecting submarines in return for payment, the Meduza news website reported.
The claim follows cases against other academics accused of working with foreign powers, who denied providing any sensitive information.
Space researcher Vladimir Lapygin, 79, was given early release last week from a seven-year sentence imposed in 2016 after being convicted of passing secret information about hypersonic aircraft to China, Radio Free Europe reported on its website.
Another space researcher, Viktor Kudryavtsev, was charged in 2018 with passing state secrets to a Belgium scientific institution. Thermal physics researcher Valentin Danilov served 8 years in prison after being convicted of spying for China in 2004.
“This is a campaign against scientists,” Pavlov said. “How will science develop if they ban contacts with foreigners?”
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