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Russia accuses leading Arctic researcher of spying for China

Investigators claim that Valery Mitko, head of the St. Petersburg Arctic Academy of Sciences, was a guest professor at the beginning of 2018, at the Chinese Dalian Maritime University, which gave Chinese intelligence a document containing state secrets, his lawyer Ivan Pavlov told CNN.

According to Pavlov, the document in question is concerned with hydroacoustics, sound work in water, monitoring of communication and submarine activity, among other things, among other things.

Mitko, 78, denies any injustice. His lawyer argues that all the information that the scientist brought from Russia to China for his courses is clearly available. The Federal Security Service press service did not respond to the request for comment.

Mitko was charged with state betrayal and was placed under house arrest in February this year, but details of the case were revealed only when Pavlov’s defense team Komanda29, who specializes in state security and espionage cases, gathered it to attract public attention. .

Observers of Russian-Chinese relations believe that espionage allegations against North Pole researchers can highlight a growing competition between the two countries in the region. Moscow and Beijing established a strategic partnership at the North Pole with increased tension with the West, but Russia’s president at the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Asia-Pacific Program Alexander Gabuev said Russia is careful about any military cooperation in this region. .

“China really shows that its intelligence has military ambition when it looks at these things,” Gabuev said. Said. “The subs are operating in neutral waters and we’re probably seeing a new front of Chinese global navy development. And officers who can operate at the North Pole are part of it.”

Some Russian academics have been accused or convicted of transmitting state secrets to foreign governments in recent years. A Moscow court reported that it has betrayed aviation engineer Viktor Kudryavtsev in 2018 for allegedly sharing a report containing information about Russian hypersonic weapons with a Belgian institute following a joint research program.

Kudryavtsev, who lived in his late 70s, spent more than a year in a detention center, but was placed under house arrest for poor health. His case is still in pre-trial investigation. According to the state-run news agency TASS, two other employees at the same institute where Kudryavtsev worked were arrested on charges of state betrayal.

According to TASS, Vladimir Lapygin, 79, another space researcher, was released from prison last week due to early parole in 2016, after a conviction to transfer technical details about the Russian spacecraft to China, according to TASS.

All scientists refused to go wrong saying that the information they were accused of sharing was not classified.

Lawyer Pavlov argued that the cases were paranoia products within the Russian special services. Court statistics show that after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the total number of security-related cases in the state raised “militarist ideas” within law enforcement.

According to data published by the Russian Supreme Court, between 2009 and 2013, a total of 25 people were convicted of state treason charges and only 15 were convicted in 2014. Between 2014 and 2019, 51 people were convicted of state betrayal.

“There is a risk group that has some sensitive information or collects such information, and above all they can be scientists, but also journalists or civil activists.” “[The special services] There is a monitor with international ties and foreign contacts, so a little red light flashes when they go abroad … and the mentality of our agents says that if a scientist goes abroad, of course he goes there to sell secrets. “

As China declared itself “a state close to the North Pole”, it significantly increased its efforts to increase its presence there, with the help of Russia and bypassing the US and NATO and other allied coastal states. On the other hand, Russia has given priority to renovate its territories within the Arctic circle, which was largely abandoned after the collapse of the USSR.
In March, President Vladimir Putin announced an ambitious Arctic 2035 plan that hopes to develop large energy projects that China has invested heavily and hopes to bring business to the region, and as Russia’s North Sea Route becomes increasingly free, it wants to export oil and gas on the rocks.

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