A prominent Russian scientist involved with the development of “hypersonic rocket systems” has been arrested and charged on suspicion of treason, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
Alexander Shiplyuk was detained in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and has been taken to Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention center.
The scientist worked at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences as director of its Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.
In this capacity he reportedly worked on developing hypersonic aircraft and rockets, a key weapon in Vladimir Putin’s arsenal.
According to the institute’s website the “general target” of some of Shiplyuk’s work was “the creation of promising hypersonic rocket systems”.
After Shiplyuk’s arrest the Khristianovich Institute was searched, according to Vasily Fomin, who worked there as scientific director.
Speaking to TASS he said: “There were operational events at the institute.
“They are connected with our director Alexander Nikolaevich Shiplyuk. He was arrested.”
Shiplyuk is the third prominent Novosibirsk-based scientist to be taken into custody over the past few months.
On June 28 Anatoly Maslov, a professor of the Aerohydrodynamics Department at the Novosibirsk State Technical University, was arrested on suspicion of treason.
He was also transferred to Lefortovo detention center after being detained.
Two days later another Novosibirsk scientist, 54-year-old Dmitry Kolker, was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counter-espionage.
Kolker, who had advanced pancreatic cancer, died in state custody a few days later after being taken to Lefortovo.
His son, Maxim, denounced his treatment in a social media post.
He wrote: “The FSB killed my father, pulling him out of the hospital while knowing what condition he was in.
“Thank you country!!!! They didn’t even let our family say goodbye.”
Addressing Russia’s “entire state machine” he added: “I hope you will answer for your actions. You took two days to kill a man.”
According to The Times of London, Kolker was arrested on suspicion of passing information to China.
The allegation is believed to stem from a lecture he gave in China in 2018, which the defense ministry says contained state secrets.
Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov insisted Kolker’s presentation had been pre-approved by the FSB, adding he was accompanied by an FSB agent for the entire time he was in China.
In July Putin announced the Russian Navy will be supplied with Zircon hypersonic missiles in the coming months.
Hypersonic missiles are defined as those that fly between five and 25 times the speed of sound.
The Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics has been asked for comment.