A Russian scientist has been arrested in southern Siberia on suspicion of passing tech secrets to China, the MBKh Media news website reported Thursday.
Federal Security Service (FSB) officers from Moscow reportedly searched the apartment of Alexander Lukanin, 64, in the city of Tomsk 3,500 kilometers east of the Russian capital. Lukanin is currently in pre-trial detention, his friend Nikolai Krivopalov told MBKh Media.
“As far as we understand, [Lukanin is accused of] something like treason, that he transferred some technologies to the Chinese,” he said.
Lukanin had moved to China after his retirement and worked on high-voltage power supplies, fracture mechanics and other forms of engineering at Shenyang University, Krivopalov said.
According to the Tomskpolit Telegram channel, Lukanin returned to Russia over the New Year holidays and, after being unable to travel back to China due to the coronavirus pandemic, took up a job at Tomsk State University.
“As we understand it, there’s nothing in [the charges against Lukanin] that relates to defense,” Krivopalov told MBKh Media.
Lukanin is the latest elderly Russian academic to be accused or convicted of cooperating with foreign states in recent years. Critics have dismissed the charges as manifestations of the state’s paranoia.