Russia » Politics
Author`s name Michael Simpson

FSB vs. Scientists

Experts think that some of the spy proceedings held within the past years were produced by the FSB to intimidate intellectuals
The trial on Vladimir Schurov, a professor from the Pacific Ocean Oceanology Institute was started about four years ago and it is not finished yet. The FSB charges the scientist with disclosure of the state secret, the Yezhednevnye Novosti newspaper reports. The serious indictment arose from a team-work of Russian and Chinese specialists on development of an apparatus for investigation of the underwater acoustics. The special service is strongly convinced that Chinese had an intention to use the apparatus for military purposes, for tracing submarines in particular.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Schurov spoke at a special press-conference at the Press Development Institute on June 18; he told journalists that documents he had published in the framework of the joint project unveiled no state secret. All formulas and calculations used for the apparatus development had been published long before his participation in the team-work.

A commission created by the Russian Academy of Sciences' presidium held an expertise and proved that materials published by the scientist contained no state secret at all. It may sound strange but the court refuses to include findings of the commission, the highest authority in the scientific world, into materials of the case. The FSB say that the scientist wants to use the scandal for his career progress.

Scientists often say that some of useful scientific developments they are working on could be helpful for the population; however they are at the same time unprofitable for some higher authorities that make much effort to hamper and ruin work of scientists.

The Public Committee for protection of scientists addressed the Prosecutor of Primorye Valery Vasilenko and asked to include the findings of the expert commission into materials of the case of to give up the persecution of the scientist. The Prosecutor issued a resolution to revise the criminal case for its expediency. By the Prosecutor's order an independent expertise started its work on October 31; however it hasn't reached any final result yet. It is planned that proceedings on Schurov will be recommenced on July 1. Scientists say that it is a wrong way to settle scientific problems at court.

Against the background of the prosecution started against Vladimir Schurov, scientists have every reason to believe that a large-scale campaign has been started with a view to hamper development of projects that are of crucial importance for the country.

PRAVDA.Ru covers the chronology of legal proceedings where scientists were involved as defendants. 

Special services discovered first spies in the early 1990s. Those were two chemists working on development and liquidation of chemical weapons, Vil Mirzoyanov and Lev Fyodorov. Later the case went to pieces, but by that moment Mirzoyanov had been kept in a detention center for several months. Ecologist and researcher of radioactive contamination of the Kola peninsula Alexander Nikitin was considered guilty of unveiling the state secret within 1996-2000, but the indictment failed all the same.

When criminal proceedings were initiated against Far Eastern journalist Grigory Pasko and Moscow diplomat Valentin Moiseyev in 1997 and 1998, the FSB got them with its iron grip and hasn't let them off yet. Russia President Vladimir Putin said in an interview to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that Moiseyev was an agent working for foreign intelligence, although the court didn't issue a verdict of guilty on the man.

Starting with 1999, when FSB high-ranking officials became active members of the authority, the spy-mania expanded to an All-Russian scale. Criminal proceedings were initiated against Professor Vladimir Soyfer from the Pacific Ocean Oceanology Institute who studied the submarine explosion at Chazhma Bay. The case has been stopped just recently. In a year, another "spy", Vladimir Schurov was revealed at the institute; the man was accused of transfer of secret military technologies to foreigners.

One more proceeding was initiated against Igor Sutyagin in 1999; the accusations also involved an American post-graduate student Joshua Handler. The case against the foreign student was closed for the absence of corpus delicti.

The scandalous case of Grigory Pasko poses the following question: what are the results of Putin's promises to reform the Russian judicial system, curtail the authority of special services and make all legal proceedings open. Many human right activists say that the Kremlin seldom keeps the word. Others say that Vladimir Putin has no power to take absolute control of the FSB.

According to President of the Glasnost Defense Foundation Alexey Simonov, "a democratization policy has been proclaimed in the country, but what we see is the activation of the special services."