- Letter from Members of Russian Academy of Sciences in Support of Victor Kudryavtsev (Russian version at http://1julyclub.org/node/318)
Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) belonging to the Club “July 1” [established in 2013 to resist re-organization of the Academy by Russian government] are expressing great concern about the prolonged jailing of Russian scientist Victor Victorovich Kudryavtsev, 75, an expert in aerodynamics of flying vehicles. Kudryavtsev, Ph.D., is a recipient of the Order of Friendship of the Russian government for his work on the project “Sea Launch”, as well as of other awards. He has worked at the Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) for almost half a century.
In 2011-2013 Kudryavtsev coordinated the work of TsNIIMash on the international project ”Transhyberian” within a research program of the European Union. Three Russian institutes (TsNIIMash, N. E. Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, and S. A. Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of RAS), as well as two foreign institutes (German Aerospace Center and Belgium von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics) participated in that completely open project. Results of the research conducted by Russian scientists have passed all necessary checks, including the one by the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control. They have been approved for transfer abroad and publication in open sources.
Five years after the completion of the project, the FSB questioned expertise of the controllers and filed a lawsuit against Kudryavtsev, citing Article 275 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation: “State Treason”. In July 2018 he was arrested and placed in Lefortovo prison where he remains until this day. At the beginning of June 2019 another TsNIIMash researcher, Associate Professor of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Roman Vyacheslavovich Kovalev, Ph.D., who also participated in the ”Transhyberian” project, was arrested. Both scientists have denied all charges and refused to report on their colleagues.
Kudryavtsev is suffering from a number of serious health problems that include diabetes, heart and kidney conditions. Medical tests conducted in September of last year and in May of this year in Moscow hospital No. 20, confirmed worsening of Kudryavtsev’s health due to his age, absence of regular medical observation, impossibility to maintain a diet and follow other medical recommendations while in jail.
The public repeatedly appealed to the state, asking it to soften the pre-trial conditions of Kudryavtsev. President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, A. M. Sergeyev, the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights of Russian Federation, 42 prominent intellectuals and human rights defenders, as well as over 130,000 citizens that signed the change.org petition, all spoke in defense of Kudryavtsev. So did the Sankt-Petersburg Union of Scientists and the international Committee of Concerned Scientists.
In spite of these appeals, the courts repeatedly refused to change the conditions of Kudryavtsev’s pre-trial detention. They ignored the fact that the prosecution has not produced any argument justifying such a harsh treatment of an elderly person who has no foreign property or residency permit and can hardly climb the staircase of the courthouse. In December 2018 Kudryavtsev was offered house arrest in exchange for admitting guilt and accusing his colleagues. After he refused, his prison conditions worsened and he was denied family visits for more than two months.
Members of Club “July 1” are requesting that Kudryavtsev and Kovalev be placed under house arrest instead of jail during the investigation. We insist on the objective investigation that is not politically motivated and is independent of the current international situation. Russian science cannot function normally in the atmosphere of spy mania when scientists are worried about their future.
Signed by 18 members of RAS, 29 corresponding members, and 8 RAS professors, see http://1julyclub.org/node/318.