Russian professors jailed for passing military secrets to China

The R-30 Bulava
Two Russian professors were convicted yesterday of handing over to Chinese government agents highly classified technical details about one of Russia’s most secretive military projects. Svyatoslav Bobyshev and Yevgeny Afanasyev, both employees of the military-affiliated Baltic State Technological University in St. Petersburg, had been arrested in March 2010 on suspicion of spying for a foreign government. The two have now been sentenced by the St. Petersburg City Court to 12 and 12 ½ years in prison respectively, after having been found guilty of treason. According to the court documents, Bobyshev and Afanasyev traveled to China in 2009, where they passed on to Chinese military intelligence officers highly secret technical details about Russia’s R-30 Bulava ballistic missile. Specifically, the two professors are accused of sharing information relating to Bulava’s underwater launch specifications. Additionally, the Russian government prosecutor said that the two were preparing to provide the Chinese with information about two of Russia’s land-based missile systems, the Topol-M and Iskander. The R-30 Bulava (the Russian word for “mace”) is the name for Moscow’s latest-generation submarine-based ballistic missile technology. It is widely considered to be one of the future cornerstones of Russia’s nuclear weapons capability, and is thought to be the most expensive weapons project currently being developed in the country. The missile was approved for production last year, and is expected to come to service this coming October, when it will begin to replace Russia’s Soviet-era stock of submarine-launched nuclear missiles. The program is strongly linked to the country’s Borei-class ballistic-missile-capable nuclear submarines, which are expected to be able to launch the R-30 Bulava while underwater and in motion. Only last month, the Russian government charged an engineer working at a top-secret military facility in the Urals with espionage, accusing him of passing classified information about Russian ballistic missiles to “agents of a foreign government”. Neither the name of the engineer nor of the country for which he has been accused of spying have been disclosed.

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