Russian political prisoner Danilov to be released
A court in Krasnoyarsk on 13 November allowed an application from physicist Professor Valentin Danilov who has been serving a 13 year sentence for “State treason and espionage” on the basis of accusations by a regional department of the FSB [Federal Security Service].
It is possibly too early for optimism since the ruling can be appealed. If it is not, then Valentin Danilov will be released after the ruling comes into force in 10 days.
Celebration must also be mixed since Professor Danilov has already served 10 years of a sentence which was condemned from the outset. The Head of a thermo-physics centre in Krasnoyarsk was convicted in 2004 of passing “secret” information to China although the information in question had been declassified some 10 years earlier. Even the initial court trial acquitted Danilov, however the Supreme Court then overturned this ruling and in November 2004 another court sentenced him to 14 years.
The case, together with that of Igor Sutyagin, has been widely condemned. Igor Sutyagin was released some two years in a Soviet-style arrangement in exchange for people caught spying over some time for Russia. Sutyagin is now resident in the UK.
Valentin Danilov is not the only scientist serving seriously questionable sentences in Russia. The following letter from prominent human rights defenders was issued at the time of Sutyagin’s release.
“Different roads lead to Skolkovo and the GULAG”
Over recent days the Russian authorities have carried out an exchange of the talented Russian researcher Igor Sutiagin for Russian spies who messed up their task. The Committee in Defence of Scientists welcomes Sutiagin’s release from prison, however expresses its bemusement over the theatrical spectacle concocted for the view of the international community. Is it really only the clumsy work of agents of the Foreign Intelligence Service that can serve to release Russian scientists sentenced on trumped up charges?
The Committee in Defence of Scientists would remind people that the talented physicist and weapons expert, Igor Sutiagin never had access to secret documents or military objects, and researched weapons solely from open sources, therefore he could not, by definition, be accused of spying.
Defying commonsense, he was convicted and spent nearly 11 years in custody after which instead of granting early conditional release, he was through blackmail forced into signing papers stating guilt and taken to the United Kingdom where the scientist had absolutely no plans of going.
We would point out that Russian legislation does not envisage the deprivation of citizenship and does not allow the authorities the right to at their own discretion “evict” dissenting individuals to other countries.
The Committee in Defence of Scientists will make every effort to seek a swift examination of Igor Sutiagin’s application to the European Court of Human Rights for compensation for the years he was held for nothing in captivity.
We are forced to remind people that only Sutyagin was released, but the following scientists remain in prison: Valentin Danilov, Igor Reshetin, Mikhail Ivanov, Alexander Rozhkin, Sergei Vizir, Ivan Petkov, Yevgeny Afanasiev and Sviatoslav Bobyshev. All of these people are equally the victims of spymania.
How many more spies have to muff their tasks before these scientists are freed?
It is harder to develop Russian science than to tell voters about Skolkovo. Science begins with respect for scientists, yet today they are cannon fodder for fighters of an invisible front head by the ideologue of spy-mania Vladimir Putin. Judging by the last events, our security services are daring and adept only when fighting their own citizens.
We demand from the President and Guarantor of the Constitution that he immediately releases from imprisonment scientist victims of spy-mania and finds the State guilty of the unlawful exile of Igor Sutiagin.