A Russian physicist is being accused of divulging state secrets, after conducting research at a physics lab in China. He couldn’t return to his work there due to Covid rules and had recently been working at Tomsk State University.
The Urals-based news site Znak identified the suspect as 64-year-old nuclear physicist Alexander Lukanin. Znak reported that Lukanin was arrested for disclosing classified information belonging to the Russian government, but there has been no official confirmation of this. The outlet also reported that the scientist is currently in a pre-trial detention centre, and that the FSB has conducted a search of his home.
Lukanin’s fields of research include electron devices in nuclear physics. He is known to have worked at the polytechnic university in Tomsk, before moving to the Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science (part of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also in Tomsk). There, Lukanin was involved in developing high-voltage power supplies before moving to China. When he was not able to go back to Shenyang after the coronavirus pandemic, he found work at Tomsk State University.
Speaking to the media, Lukanin’s friend Nikolai Krivopalov said of his arrest: “As far as we know, it’s something like treason – that he sold some technologies to the Chinese. When he retired, he went to work in China – he was invited by Shenyang University. He worked in a laboratory there, researching high-voltage power supplies, the radio-technical disturbance of hard materials, and similar areas. But, as far as we know, this wasn’t related to military defense.”
In August the Russian Ministry of Defence responded to the appearance of sensitive information in the media by proposing to make all information about the country’s military defense confidential, if it is not already a state secret. In recent months several Russian academics have been arrested on suspicion of state treason, including three scientists from the Central Research Institute for Machine-building, Viktor Kudryavtsev, Roman Kovalev and Sergey Mereshchyakov. The FSB has also led investigations into Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin and a former journalist.
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