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Russian Nuclear Scientist Jailed 9 Years for Treason

The Russian Federal Nuclear Center in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Russian Federal Nuclear Center - VNIIEF / Facebook

A scientist at a Russian nuclear research facility in the Nizhny Novgorod region has been sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of "high treason," local media reported Wednesday, citing law enforcement officials. 

Investigators accused Viktor Ilyin — an employee at the Federal Nuclear Center in the closed town of Serov — of attempting to engage in espionage activities on behalf of Ukraine, the U.S. and Britain.

Ilyin was said to have sought to provide Western security services with "information about the latest scientific developments” in Russia. 

"To conceal his illegal activities, the man used forged documents and special software," the Federal Security Service's (FSB) press service said.

Court records reveal that Ilyin was arrested earlier this year, but he first faced trial only in April, during which he pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

On May 23, the scientist was handed a nine-year prison sentence — two years less than the 12-year minimum penalty for "high treason."

Ilyin’s sentence came into force this month. 

The news comes just a day after Russian prosecutors requested a 12-year prison sentence for Moscow scientist Valery Golubkin, 71, who also stands accused of treason.

At least three Russian scientists who have worked on hypersonic missile development have been arrested on suspicion of treason over the past year.

In April, President Vladimir Putin signed into law amendments increasing the maximum penalty for "high treason" from 20 years to life imprisonment.

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