The case of scientist Vladimir Lapygin, convicted of ‘espionage’

posted 5 Jun 2017, 03:03 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jun 2017, 03:05 ]
30 May 2017


Vladimir Lapygin, the 76-year-old scientist at the Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) who was sentenced to seven years in a high-security prison in a so-called “espionage” case, has petitioned for a pardon, Grani reports, citing Open Russia.

Petitions of this kind are now reviewed by the Commission for Pardons of Tver region, where Lapygin is imprisoned. Lapygin simultaneously sent a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court.

Before this, the details of Lapygin’s case were unknown. As explained by journalist and activist Zoya Svetova, the scientist wrote a text called “How I became a spy,” in which he disclosed the details of his case.

The investigation charged Vladimir Lapygin with giving China “a software system able to compute optimized aerodynamic characteristics of hypersonic aircraft containing state secrets.”

The scientist himself testifies that he gave China only an introductory copy of the software. He acted in the interests of the Russian enterprise TsNIIMash and intended to negotiate a contract with the Chinese partners that would be beneficial to TsNIIMash.

In addition, emphasizes Vladimir Lapygin, the software he gave China was created at TsNIIMash in 2010 and was granted the option of open publishing in December of the same year.

However, after the criminal case against Lapygin had been opened, the management of TsNIIMash classified the programme in question at the demand of the FSB.

Experts appointed by the FSB also attested to the presence of top-secret information in the materials that Lapygin handed over. One of the primary experts was Aleksei Galaktionov, former postgraduate student under Lapygin and his subordinate, with whom the scientist had constant conflicts. Lapygin's defence counsel succeeded in persuading the court to recognize the evaluation by this expert as inadmissible evidence.

However, the court declined the defence’s proposed experts for conducting a reassessment. The experts selected by the court and prosecutor’s office confirmed the results of the first examination.

“The accusation of treason is fabricated start to finish,” states the convicted scientist himself, Vladimir Lapygin.

Vladimir Lapygin was arrested by FSB officers in May 2015 and placed under house arrest. However, the media only reported on the prosecution of the scientist two months later.

Vladimir Lapygin’s sentence was delivered by Moscow City Court on 6 September 2016; information on the decision appeared in the media only on 23 September. The scientist was taken into custody in the courtroom. On 14 December, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence.

On 15 February, it was reported that 23 Russian scientists, many of whom are colleagues of Vladimir Lapygin at TsNIIMash, sent a letter to the president with the request to pardon the scientist. Among those who signed the document were Russian Academy of Sciences members Vladimir Levin, Sergei Surzhikov, and Vasily Fomin, as well as associate member Ivan Egorov.

As stated in the appeal, Lapygin is “an honest and responsible person with good morals, a respected leader, and an authoritative specialist.” “A person with that kind of reputation cannot betray their country,” the signatories insisted.

The scientists’ letter to the president emphasizes: “For a 76-year-old person in the aftermath of two very serious car accidents, any amount of time in a high-security prison is equivalent to the death penalty.”