Top Russian scientist Dmitry Kolker died of terminal cancer two days after he was arrested on charges of state treason and espionage charges on his deathbed — according to what his lawyer and a family member said on Sunday.
Dmitry Kolker, 54, was taken from his hospital bed in Siberia, where he was receiving nutrition via a tube, and sent onto a flight to Moscow that lasted more than four hours.
According to his attorneys, he was then taken to Lefortovo prison, where he later passed away in a nearby hospital.
Dmitry Kolker was allegedly accused of spying for China
Dmitry Kolker, a doctor of physics and mathematics at Novosibirsk State University, was suspected of espionage in China, where he had previously given scientific speeches, although his family maintains that he was innocent.
He was charged with "state treason" and "espionage" for a "foreign state" crime that carried a 20-year prison sentence, according to the court.
According to his family, he was moved to Moscow despite being in a critical condition. This was done after he had been detained by FSB security service agents at a clinic in Novosibirsk where he was receiving treatment for terminal cancer.
Kolker's son said that FSB agents traveled with him on all of his trips to China. The police would make sure Kolker exclusively communicated with Chinese learners via a Russian interpreter. He said:
"He is constantly vomiting. People don't walk around in such condition."
His son, Maxim Kolker, told the Lativa-based Russian news outlet that Kolker suffered stage four pancreatic cancer. He said:
"The FSB killed my father, they knew what state he was in, but they took him out of the hospital. Thank you my country!! His family didn't even have permission to say goodbye to him."
The allegations put against Dmitry Kolker were "rubbish," his relative Anton Dianov told Reuters while speaking from the United States. He quoted:
"He was a scientist, he loved his country, he was working in his country despite many invitations from leading universities and labs to go work abroad. He wanted to work in Russia, he wanted to teach students. These charges are absolutely ridiculous and extremely cruel and unsual to be levied on such a sick man."
Dmitry Kolker's daughter Alina Mironova grieved his imprisonment in a post on her VKontakte profile. She wrote:
"Stage four pancreatic cancer is a verdict. But to face such a verdict not at home, within the walls of a detention center without proper medical care is the worst thing that can happen to a person."
In recent years, a number of Russian scientists have been detained and charged with treason for allegedly transmitting secret information to foreigners.
Authorities also detained Anatoly Maslov, the director of the Novosibirsk-based Institute of Theoretical and Practical Mechanics, a few days after Kolker was taken into custody.
Russia detained a second scientist in Novosibirsk on charges of state treason, according to Russian news agency TASS on Saturday. It remains unclear whether the two cases are related.