SBU suspects scientist of spying for the US
Vladimir Strelko, a member of Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues believe it possible that the Security Service [SBU] checks have been initiated by people wanting to take over the Institute’s property.
The institute of Sorption and Ecological Issues within the Academy of Sciences which Dr Strelko is head of is well-known for making sorbents which accelerate removal of radionucleides from the organism and neutralize toxins. Strelko in fact left for the USA in December for a meeting with colleagues on that subject, but has not yet returned.
He told journalists that after his work trip he took leave in order to spend time with his son who is studying in the USA. He asked staff from the Institute to provide him with publications and some studies, and sent instructions. “Then on 19 December SBU officers turned up at the institute and removed a computer from my reception room.”
Vladimir Brei, the Deputy Director of the Institute told Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine that they did not get an answer straight away as to the grounds on which the computer was being removed. “But they said that there is a lot of secret information being leaked to the USA from us. A week later they came again, and looked with Geiger meters for sources of radioactive contamination, but didn’t find anything. What happened is, to put it mildly, surprising. Vladimir Vasylyevich did not go to the USA on a business trip for the first time and he was in email contact with staff all the time. That did not arouse questions earlier.”.
According to the newspaper Segodnya, their sources in the police have told them that SBU officers started paying attention to the Institute almost 2 years ago. The sources assert that this was receiving operational information that the Director was supposedly sending American colleagues through the Internet data about scientific studies linked with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station and the health of the Ukrainian people. “And he apparently received big grants for that from the USA for research work”, the source said.
The SBU has also confirmed that they have shown interest in the Institute. Speaking about suspected espionage, the SBU Press Secretary Marina Ostapenko said that “a check is being carried out”.
The accusations are rejected by the Institute. “Any normal person working in science understands very well that no work is possible without exchange of information. That does not mean that there’s any kind of spying”, Valery Zazhygalov, another colleague of Dr Strelko and correspondent member of the Academy of Sciences says.
Dr Strelko and some of his colleagues believe that the suspicion of “spying” is the work of ill-wishers in the department. He cannot exclude the possibility that the checks show that there are people with their eye on the Institute’s property. This includes both physical property (several buildings and a large area of land) and intellectual property.