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BBC Monitoring
Russian secret services keep on persecuting scientists - TV
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 18 Jun 03

Physicists have held a conference in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, to comment on espionage charges they are facing and their persecution by the Russian secret services who try to interfere in research. The following is the text of the report by Russian TVS television on 18 June:

[Presenter] A new development in a spy scandal in the Far East. A physicist is about to be put in the dock. He is being charged with spying for China. The Russian Academy of Sciences has said that the information that the physicist is said to have divulged has long seen stopped being a secret.

[Correspondent Maksim Borisov] Today [18 June] human rights activists and the colleagues of [physicist] Vladimir Shchurov decided to declare once again that he is innocent. Their main argument is that neither the court nor the relevant agencies [security services] are competent in matters involving fundamental research.

[Vladimir Shchurov, physicist, captioned] I can show you this book: have a look, there are lots of various formulae, graphs and equations.

What court can take the liberty of saying that these equations or the way they are formulated is a secret? Or how can it comment on the conclusions to be drawn after the formulation of this equation?

This is utter stupidity and is entirely absurd. The Federal Security Service directorate and the prosecutor's office which supports such charges, plus naturally any court which takes the liberty of judging scientific material, compromise themselves.

[Correspondent] The reason given for the criminal prosecution is linked to the equipment for studying underwater noises designed in Shchurov's laboratory.

This order was fulfilled for Chinese colleagues from a Harbin engineering institute. FSB investigators have decided that the work of the Russian scientists can be used for military purposes.

[Aleksandr Berkovich, lawyer, captioned] My laboratory is the only one in Russia dealing with this sector. In fact it is practically non-existent now, and thus we can say that this scientific field has been destroyed. And the result is that the science is being trampled underfoot. This is a ban, a shameless ban on the profession of a scientist.

[Correspondent] Previously major nuclear physicist Vladimir Soyfer caught the attention of the secret services. He has also been charged with espionage, but his case was never taken to court: it was dropped. Today [18 June] professor Soyfer made a sensational statement.

His research in the Maritime Territory's [30 km from Vladivostok] Chazhma Bay, where an accident on a nuclear submarine took place in [10 August] 1985, has affected the plans of local authorities to launch a grandiose project to construct a gas and oil complex.

[Vladimir Soyfer, a counsellor of the Far East branch of the institute on the Pacific Ocean studies, and a nuclear physicist, captioned] The necessary environmental expertise has been entrusted not to those who have been dealing with the problem since 1990 - me and a group of my colleagues - but to the Pacific Fleet, and to its chemical [warfare] service so that they could conduct the kind of experiments that the authorities needed. And they had to remove me from there: that is the entire reason [for the charges].

In Moscow I was told to never mention this anywhere, and this is the first time that I have spoken about this openly, as they can throw you from the 11th floor and smear you all over a wall because a huge amount of money is in question.

[Correspondent] The FSB directorate of the Maritime Territory has refused to comment on the statements made by the scientists and said that firstly the material has to be studied properly.

[Video shows a news conference, scientists speaking, maps, books]

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