Anatoly Maslov, 76, and two colleagues from the Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) are charged with treason.
The first of three Russian hypersonic missile scientists to be arrested on suspicion of treason will go on trial next week in a case that sources say involves charges of betray secrets to China.
The criminal case against Anatoly Maslov, 76, will open in St Petersburg City Court on June 1, the court announced on its website on Wednesday.
Maslov and two colleagues at the Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) in Siberia have all been arrested on suspicion of treason over the past year.
The three are specialists in hypersonics, an area of key importance for the development of the next generation of Russian missiles, capable of flying at 10 times the speed of sound.
The case, classified “top secret”, will be closed to the media and the public, the court said. The Kremlin previously said the suspects face “very serious charges”, although details of their alleged crime are classified.
The news portal of the Siberian Science City where they were based said Maslov was suspected of having deliver secrets to China.
Two sources told Reuters news agency that fellow suspect Alexander Shiplyuk, the director of ITAM, is suspected of leaking secrets to China during a conference there in 2017. They said that he denies the accusation, saying the information in question was publicly available online.
ITAM has many international connections and states on its website that it is registered as part of the Russian military-industrial complex.
Maslov – whose custody was extended until November 10 in a closed hearing on Wednesday – was arrested last June in Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city. Soon after, he was sent to Lefortovo prison in Moscow, a former KGB interrogation site.
In St. Petersburg, he was placed in the FSB security service prison on Shalernaya Street, where many Soviet dissidents were once held by the KGB, Maslov’s lawyer Olga Dinze told Reuters.
She declined to comment further on the matter, saying “the situation is extremely difficult”.
Maslov’s colleagues and fellow suspects Shiplyuk and the third man arrested, Valery Zvegintsev, last week published an open letter in their defense, warning that the lawsuits threatened to harm Russian science.
Last month, the Russian parliament voted to increase the maximum sentence for treason to life imprisonment, from 20 years.