No Parole For Jailed Scientist

Igor Sutyagin has been denied parole, and transferred to a separate holding cell.

The second attempt at parole by Igor Sutyagin, an imprisoned scientist serving time for “divulging state secrets,” has ended in a rebuff. The result of the appeal was revealed by the Public Committee for the Protection of Scientists and Sutyagin’s parents at a press-release in Moscow on October 29th.

The executive secretary of the committee, Ernst Cherniy, revealed that Vladimir Lukin, the commissioner for human rights in Russia, assisted in the preparations of Sutyagin’s defense. The appeal documents were finalized, when the attorneys learned that Sutyagin had been transferred to a building resembling solitary confinement.

Sutyagin’s mother was forlorn: “He could be benefiting Russia,” she said, “and not hauling wood shavings from the mill bench.” “It wasn’t he who was given 15 years, it was all of us who were given 105 years,” she said, describing the difficulty for the family. In her words, her son’s arrest broke the whole family apart. Sutyagin’s wife had trouble finding work, and his two grown daughters were deeply troubled.

Yuri Ryzhkov, an academic from the Russian Academy of Sciences declared: “Sutyagin was just unlucky, anyone could have found themselves in his place.” The scholar reminded the audience that in Putin’s Russia, more than one third of all government positions are staffed by current or former employees of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). “In the very high posts are the very small-minded people,” he continued.

The case against Sutyagin began on November 3rd, 2003. The scientist, who was head of the subdivision for Military-Technical and Military-Economic Policy at the U.S. and Canada Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was accused of relaying information, which constituted as state secrets, to representatives of a British consulting firm called “Alternative Futures.” The company, according to FSB sources, was actually a front for US intelligence, and had nothing to do with legitimate scientific activities. A jury board unanimously found Sutyagin guilty of treason, and the researcher was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment at a maximum security penal colony.

Sutyagin maintains his innocence. He admits that he passed certain information to foreigners, but explained that all of the information came from open and public literature, such as newspapers and journals. Since Sutyagin had no security clearance, he never had access to any classified documents.

In November 2005, Sutyagin was transferred to a second penal colony in Arkhangelsk. In May of 2006, the European Court for Human Rights formally challenged the Russian government on matters relating to the complaints from the scientist’s defense. Sutyagin has been labeled a political prisoner by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

To read more about the scientist’s plight, visit