The trial of the first Russian hypersonic missile scientist accused of treason is scheduled to commence next week, according to an announcement made by the court overseeing the case on Wednesday, May 24.
Anatoly Maslov, 76, will be brought before the St. Petersburg city court on June 1, marking the beginning of a criminal case against him. Maslov, along with two fellow scientists from the Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) in Siberia, had been arrested over the past year on suspicion of treason.
The three detained individuals are experts in the field of hypersonic, and play critical roles in the development of Russia’s next-generation missiles capable of reaching speeds 10 times that of sound.
The trial is classified ‘top secret’ and will be conducted behind closed doors, barring any media or public access, as stated by the court. During a closed hearing earlier today, Maslov’s custody was extended until November 10.
Maslov was apprehended in June of last year in Novosibirsk, a prominent scientific hub in Siberia. Subsequently, he was transferred to Lefortovo prison in Moscow, a location historically known for KGB interrogations.
In their defense , Maslov’s colleagues, Shiplyuk and Valery Zvegintsev, who were also arrested, penned an open letter emphasizing that these prosecutions posed a threat to Russia’s scientific progress.
The Kremlin has meanwhile, acknowledged the gravity of the accusations, referring to them as ‘very serious’.
In a parliamentary decision last month, the maximum penalty for treason in Russia was elevated from 20 years of imprisonment to a potential life sentence.