Russia's Memorial Lists 75-Year-Old Jailed Researcher As Political Prisoner

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has listed a jailed 75-year-old researcher at a Russian rocket and spacecraft design facility who is charged with treason as a political prisoner.

Viktor Kudryavtsev, who worked with the Central Research Institute for Machine Building, was arrested last July on suspicion of passing classified data on hypersonic technologies to a research group in Belgium.

In a July 12 statement , Memorial said Kudryavtsev sent the materials in question to Belgium after a commission at his institute and a state secrets commission officially permitted him to do so and, therefore, the charges are groundless.

"The persecution of Viktor Kudryavtsev is not different from other espionage cases that are a result of the state's intentional policies and propaganda to create a war-time atmosphere in society that goes on along with the search for 'a fifth column' and 'enemies of the state.' To maintain such an atmosphere, new cases against 'spies' and 'traitors against the homeland' are created that lead to the fabrication of criminal cases and the artificial criminalization of absolutely legal acts," the statement says.

Memorial currently lists 77 people as political prisoners in Russia and says 421 people are currently being persecuted for political or religious reasons.