Moscow’s newspaper Kommersant published a letter on the scientist Victor Kudryavtsev, signed by Russian Human Rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva and 41 other scientists, jurists, journalists and HR defenders asking that he be released from prison.
Scientist Victor Kudryavtsev, 75, must be released from prison
Scientists, human rights defenders, journalists demand that pre-trial detention of Dr. Kudryavtsev be rescinded
For almost 50 years Victor Kudryavtsev, 75, worked for Russian civilian rocket industry. He received medals, honorary citations, and gratitude from various Russian institutions. He is suffering from diabetes, heart condition from a recent heart attack, and high blood pressure. The last three month he has been confined in the Lefortovo prison on the absurd charge of treason.
In July of this year Russian scientist Victor Kudryavtsev, a researcher at the Central Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash), was detained on suspicion of treason and sent to Lefortovo in Moscow, where he is now.
On October 19 Kudryavtsev turned 75. He is suffering from numerous health conditions. His health is deteriorating daily. His family and his attorneys worry that he will not survive to see trial. His diabetes requires a strict diet that is not possible in prison.
On the order of the prosecutor, Kudryavtsev was administered medical tests. Doctors have written five pages of his conditions but none of them qualified the scientist for replacing his imprisonment by the house arrest.
His daughter in law, Elena, writes: “We saw each other and shook hands in the corridor of the Lefortovo court house. I never thought that a hand of a man who is still alive can be that cold. It is hard to describe his condition. Always thin, he lost a lot of weight, his skin darkened and was hanging from his bones. Pictures of the WW-II concentration camps came to mind. Ten days after his arrest, when his case was appealed in a Moscow court, he could not climb a staircase to the third floor without the help of his guards.”
People suffer in pre-trial confinement a lot. At no surprise one day there is counted as a day and a half in a detention camp. Detainees are denied medical attention and often cannot receive medicine needed to save life. It takes place even before the person is found guilty by any court.
This kind of suffering hits the most helpless. Just recently the detention of 18-year-old Anna Pavlikova and 19-year-old Maria Dubovik, arrested in a political case, have been replaced by the house arrest. Last week the court found them innocent. They come for our children, then for our parents.
Victor Kudryavtsev has not been found guilty, the charges are absurd. Kudryavtsev has been accused of transmitting electronic information to a researcher at the Belgian von Karman Institute that according to the FSB “could be used for weapon designs”. The TsNIIMash participated in a joint project with that institute funded by the European Union.
The project was open and devoted to peaceful research on the aerodynamics of returning space ships. Kudryavtsev had no access to secrets for more than 20 years. He never worked on military rockets. His son Yaroslav is frustrated: “A scientist cannot be criminally responsible for the fact that all rockets, regardless of their use, fly according to the same laws of physics”.
The prosecutor explains the necessity of imprisonment by the fact that Kudryavtsev’s mail contained a letter informing him that he won a green card in the United States. It had a typical spam return address and the text that nobody takes seriously. Nevertheless the court decided that Kudryavtsev (whose foreign passport was confiscated) was a flight risk.
Victor Kudryavtsev worked for TsNIIMash for 48 years, rising from an engineer to the deputy director of the Aero-Gas-Dynamics Center. A few years ago he left administrative duties and focused on science as a lead researcher. Kudryavtsev worked on modeling the airflow around rockets and satellites during launch and re-entry in the atmosphere.
The results of his research were used in rocket staging for “Energia”, KSLV, “Zenit”, “Angara”, “Rokot”, and start complexes “Soyuz-Kuru”, “Soyuz-Vostok”, and “Sea Launch”. Kudrayvtsev received the State Prize of the Russian Federation, medals and numerous citations from institutes and manufacturers of the space industry. He is a member of the Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics.
All these achievements no longer matter. The state that used Kudryavtsev’s research, financed his work, gave him medals and gratitude, is now holding him in prison where his health is rapidly deteriorating. We demand that his detention be rescinded and replaced by a measure that does not involve keeping him in prison.
Signatures: Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, member of the Russian President’s Council on Developing Civil Society and Human Rights, and 41 prominent Russian scientists, jurists, journalists, and human rights defenders.