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Top Russian scientist dies two days after being jailed for 'treason'

‘Putin is seeing spies everywhere’: Top Russian scientist dies two days after being pulled out of cancer bed and jailed for ‘treason’ as family claims he was ‘tortured’ by security service

  • Quantum physics prof dies 48h after being dragged out of cancer bed and jailed
  • Dr Dmitry Kolker, 54, was flown four hours across Russia and accused of treason
  • Kolker’s family claim Putin security service ‘tortured’ the leading laser scientist
  • ‘Putin is seeing spies everywhere’, said one academic who knew the professor

One of Russia’s leading scientists has died less than two days after he was dragged out of a cancer bed and locked up on charges of high treason.

Dr Dmitry Kolker, 54, was flown across Russia from Novosibirsk, where he taught quantum physics and maths, to Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison on Friday.

After 48 hours, the leading laser scientist died, his family announced today.

He was under the watch of state security service the FSB, once led by Vladimir Putin.


Kolker, who suffered stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was too ill for chemotherapy, is cared for by his mother. The FSB claims it had medical authorisation to detain the world-leading scientist

Dr Kolker poses for a snap with daughter Alina, who said her family is ‘going through total hell’

Dr Kolker’s family accused the FSB of ‘torture’ and abusing the doctor’s human rights by pulling him out of his death bed. He had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The FSB claimed it had medical authorisation to unplug him from his hospital drip and lock him up as part of a major spy probe.

The scientist was accused of leading a pro-China spy ring alongside Professor Anatoly Maslov, 75, a hypersonic technologies teacher.

Maslov remains in Lefortovo, which became famous during Stalin’s Great Purge of political opponents, businessmen and scientists.

Dr Kolker was held at infamous Lefortovo Prison, associated with Stalin’s 1930s Great Purge

Dr Kolker (right) poses with musician son Maxim (left), who insisted his father was not a spy

An academic who knew Kolker said: ‘Putin is seeing spies everywhere.

‘Top scientists were officially urged to collaborate with top foreign partners [and] did so. 

‘Now they are being accused of espionage.’

Dr Kolker was head of Novosibirsk State University’s quantum optical technologies laboratory.

A slim-looking Kolker is pictured in a recent photo shortly before his fatal detainment

He was regarded as a world expert on lasers, having previously collaborated with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford.

Kolker was too ill for chemotherapy when he was detained.

His daughter Alina Mironova, 29, said after his arrest in late June: ‘Our family is going through total hell.

‘Our father cannot pass away surrounded by his family members.’

The scientist’s son Maxim, 22, said his father had travelled to China on a lecturing trip.

But the scientist – also a talented musician – was accompanied all the time by an FSB agent who approved every word of his lectures, he said.

They strongly denied he had passed state secrets on lasers to China. 

Dr Maslov, chief researcher at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is accused of transmitting hypersonic state secrets to a foreign power, believed to be China.

Kolker’s colleague Anatoly Maslov, 75, remains in custody at the notorious Moscow jail

The exact nature of the alleged crime is not known but his work included hypersonic innovations for aircraft.

Maslow is known to have previously worked with Boeing in America and with German and Chinese partners. 

Academician Vasily Fomin, scientific director of Maslov’s institute, said: ‘He dealt with the problems of laminar-turbulent transition, which affects the reduction of the resistance of aircraft.

Kolker, pictured at an organ rehearsal in Berlin, was also a keen musician in his spare time

‘At one time on the instructions of the government, everyone was forced to cooperate with foreign colleagues.

‘So, Maslov worked with the American Boeing, and with the Chinese, and the Germans.

‘And now scientists, it turns out, have become guilty.’

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