Russia jails top hypersonic scientist for ‘sharing secrets with NATO country’
The leading physicist is the latest in a string of top Russian scientists to be jailed under Putin's regime.
One of the world’s leading hypersonic scientists has been jailed for 12 years by Russia for sharing technology with the West – even though he had permission to do so.
Professor Anatoly Gubanov is the latest among a string of top academic figures to be locked up by Vladimir Putin’s regime.
The 66-year-old physicist, who is an expert in hypersonic aviation technology and high speed missiles, was put behind bars for ‘high treason’ at a strict regime, maximum security prison.
He was handed down the sentence after a secret trial following his arrest during a swoop by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) back in December 2020.
Gubanov was head of the secretive Aerodynamics of Aircraft and Rocket Department at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in Zhukovsky, Moscow Oblast.
The father-of-five had been given permission three times to share details of Russian research with a project coordinated by the European Space Agency.
Specialists from Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Australia also worked on the venture, called Hexafly-INT: High-Speed Experimental Fly Vehicles International.
Fellow hypersonic scientist Valery Golubkin, 71, was also jailed for ‘high treason’ in June this year for allegedly leaking ‘secrets’ to a NATO country.
Similarly, the well-respected professor was sent to a strict regime penal colony after being accused of handing state secrets involving aerodynamics to scientists from the Netherlands.
Golubkin insisted at the time that no secrets were involved and he only shared information cleared by the Russian authorities.
Multiple top scientists have been held on national security accusations by Putin’s regime in the past two years with the FSB accused of purging some of Russia’s top academics.
Three hypersonic missile scientists based at an institute in Siberia are also currently on trial facing treason charges.
The Perviy Otdel human rights project said that the material involving high speed passenger aircraft running on hydrogen fuel had been shared with Western scientists only after it was cleared by three specialised Russian commissions prior to submission.
None of these commissions – overseen by the FSB – found state secrets in the reports.
The case is seen as evidence of the Putin regime increasing paranoia toward scientific cooperation with foreign countries.
Senior scientists have warned that treason cases against scientists will have a chilling effect on young researchers.
Gubanov is known as an expert on supersonic solid rocket engines and is from a dynasty of scientists which included his father-in-law professor Leonid Shkadov, a leading Soviet aviation designer.
Two of his daughters and one son – all physicists – also work at TsAGI.
Interfax says the professor is suspected of passing ‘information consisting of state secrets abroad’ or committing ‘other acts aimed against the security of Russia in the interests of a foreign state, organisation or representatives’.
When he was held, colleagues told Interfax they were ‘surprised’ by the arrest of a man ‘respected by his students’.
Three hypersonic scientists – Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk and Valery Zvegintsev – were arrested on suspicion of high treason in May this year after Russia’s Kinzhal missiles were ‘shot down’ by Ukraine.
Ilya Sachkov, 37, founder of pioneering Group-IB, once awarded by Putin, was jailed for 14 years for ‘passing secrets to foreign spies’.
Acclaimed laser scientist Dr Dmitry Kolker, 54, died last year two days after he was seized from his cancer hospital bed and shut away in one of Russia’s most notorious jails as a ‘spy’.
In August, writer Dmitry Glukhovsky was sentenced to eight years in jail for his opposition to the Ukraine war.
Last month, one of Russia’s top space scientists died after he was allegedly poisoned with mushrooms.
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