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Son of scientist arrested despite cancer: “He refused to incriminate his colleagues. We don't know if he's alive”

Novosibirsk scientist Dmitry Kolker, who was led away by the police straight from the hospital despite being in the terminal stage of cancer and placed in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center on suspicion of “treason,” previously refused to testify against Sergey Bagayev, Director Of Research at the Institute of Laser Physics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Alexei Taichenachev, the institute's Director.

“They called him in for questioning, they wanted him to testify against chief researcher Bagaev and the director of the Institute of Laser Physics. He said he would not tell untruths and things he didn't know about. Some sort of coercion was going on,” Maxim Kolker explained.

Taichenachev, Director of the Institute of Laser Physics, became a defendant in a criminal case for abuse of authority (part 1 of Article 285 of the Criminal Code) in October 2021. In February 2022, 80-year-old academician Bagaev was detained on charges of especially large-scale fraud.

According to Kolker, his father's lawyer has already flown to Moscow, but so far they have no information.

“So far nothing is known. The last contact I had with my father was at 6:15 p.m. on the flight to Moscow. He said he was saying goodbye. He may have been aware of his condition. We don't even know if he's still alive. The investigator said the conditions were good, with a refrigerator in the prison cell. What refrigerator? The man can't eat, he is fed intravenously. He is constantly vomiting. People don't walk around in such condition.”

Kolker said his father had stage IV metastatic cancer. He visited a private clinic for chemotherapy, but on June 29 his condition worsened and he was hospitalized. “When he was in a normal state, he weighed 100 kilograms; now he weighs 67 kilograms. Five months ago, the doctor said that without proper treatment he would last for three months, and with treatment he could live longer, but it was not clear how much longer, because he was already in stage four,” he said.

Maxim Kolker is sure that when his father was led away from the hospital, the police took no medication for him. “They had no idea at all who they were arresting or what condition he was in,” he added.

Maxim Kolker notes that in the past few years, it has been a common practice for the FSB in Novosibirsk to pay so much attention to scientists. “But when a person is taken from the hospital, put on a plane and packed into a detention center in Moscow on the same day - it's not at all common,” he says.

Dmitry Kolker, 54, is a doctor of physical and mathematical sciences, head of the laboratory of quantum optical technologies at the Institute of Laser Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Novosibirsk State University, as well as a professor at the laser systems department of the Novosibirsk State Technical University (NSTU NETI). On June 30, a court in Novosibirsk arrested him on suspicion of high treason, whereafter he was flown to Moscow.

Dmitry Kolker went to China several times to give lectures. According to his son, he was accompanied by an FSB officer who made sure that the scientist did not communicate with students and colleagues in English, but only in Russian through an interpreter.

The scientist's son insists that the documents related to his father's scientific research did not contain state secrets. All of them had been subjected to a thorough scrutiny.

A photo of the sheet of paper with the titles of the presentations in connection with which he is accused was posted by Dmitry Kolker’s daughter Alina Mironova on her VKontakte page.

She also posted the photos taken on the eve of hospitalization, where Kolker is being cared for by his mother.

“Stage four pancreatic cancer is a verdict. But to face such a verdict not at home, but within the walls of a detention center without proper medical care is the worst thing that can happen to a person,” she wrote.

This is not the first time Russian scientists have been prosecuted for treason. In 2018, a case was opened against Victor Kudryavtsev, a fellow at the Central Research Institute of Machine Building. The scientist spent more than a year in Lefortovo, after which he was placed under house arrest. The case never went to trial, as he died in 2021 at the age of 77. Kudryavtsev's student, Roman Kovalev, was convicted of treason in 2020. He was released for health reasons in 2022 and passed away in April.

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