Scientist under suspicion of espionage | Polarjournal
Professor Valery Mitko, President of the Arctic Academy of Sciences of Russia. (Photo: submariners)

Relations between Moscow and Beijing include both cooperation and competition. In February, Russian Arctic scientist Valery Mitko was placed under house arrest and charged with treason for leaking information to China about Russian submarine detection technology.

Valery Mitkon is said to have revealed secrets during his visits to China. (Photo: submariners)

Valery Mitko, president of the Arctic Academy of Sciences of Russia, has been under house arrest since February. He could face up to 20 years in prison for treason. On June 5, a court in St. Petersburg extended Mitko’s house arrest until October 10. The scientist is prohibited from communicating with others directly or via mail, internet or telephone.

Mitko’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, said on June 15 that the case was being investigated by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russia plans to take Valery Mitko, one of its leading Arctic scientists, to court on charges of leaking state secrets to China, lawyer Ivan Pavlov said. He said his client had traveled to China twice a year for conferences, where he presented documents and information that were available to the public during lectures. “There were no state secrets in there. We consider these allegations absurd,” Pavlov said, and he hoped the case would be dismissed before the trial.

Russian investigators accuse the 78-year-old academic of leaking information about Russian submarine detector technology during a lecture in China. Mitko vehemently denies these allegations.

Treason accusations against researchers and scientists have become common in Russia in recent years.

News of Mitko’s alleged high treason come four days after a Russian court granted an early release to a 79-year-old former space explorer, Vladimir Lapygin, who had been sentenced to seven years in prison in 2016 for treason.

Lapygin, who had worked for a research division of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, also had been found guilty of leaking classified material to China, which he also denied.

According to unconfirmed sources, Mitko has been accused of providing China with information on methods of tracking submarines. (Photo: submariners)

In den letzten Jahren wurde gegen mehrere russische Wissenschaftler wegen angeblicher Kontakte mit ausländischen Regierungen ermittelt.

According to many observers, Mitko’s process underscores Russian concern about China’s global rise, despite the development of closer ties with Beijing against the United States.

The Arctic, Mitko’s specialty, is one of the areas in which China and Russia both cooperate and compete.

Russia is a major player in the Arctic region and has greatly expanded its military presence.

The melting of ice in the polar regions due to global warming could facilitate navigation across the Arctic Ocean, which would be a novel and shorter route between Europe and Asia.

China and Russia also want to tap into the region’s vast energy resources. Moscow, however, desperately needs Chinese investors to expand Arctic ports and infrastructure. The government in Moscow, however, fears that Beijing could challenge leadership in the region, as it already does in Central Asia.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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