1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Russia: Hypersonic tech scientist arrested for treason

August 12, 2021

The scientist has been accused of providing secret information to a foreign citizen. Russia has been experimenting with hypersonic weapons to expand its military capabilities.

Russia's Zircon hypersonic cruise missile
Russia recently tested the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile in JulyImage: Russian Defense Ministry/AP/picture alliance

The Russian government on Thursday arrested the director of a hypersonic research lab on treason charges, according to Russian news outlets.

The term "hypersonics" refers to flying at least five times the speed of sound, with Russia using the technology to build cutting-edge missiles in recent years.

What do we know so far?

The scientist, identified as 73-year-old Alexander Kuranov, is accused of handing over secret information pertaining to his research to a foreign citizen. 

The treason charges typically carry a jail sentence of 12 to 20 years behind bars.

Russian state-run news agency reported that the Federal Security Service (FSS) intends to keep Kuranov in custody for two months.

Kuranov is the director of the State Hypersonic Systems Research Institute in St. Petersburg, and oversees the Ayaks hypersonic waverider aircraft program. The Ayaks program was first launched during the Soviet Union.

Kuranov has reportedly authored over 120 scientific papers and has taken part in international conferences on aerodynamic technologies.

Russia: From police to opposition

Russia cracking down on scientists

Kuranov is the latest prominent scientist to be arrested by the Russian government. 

Theoretical physics professor Valery Golubkin, who worked for the Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), was taken into custody by Russian authorities in April for similar treason charges.

Another employee at the institute, hypersonic aircraft specialist and physicist Anatoly Gurbanov, was arrested last year for treason.

Russia test-launches hypersonic missile

Russia has been experimenting with hypersonic weapons to boost its military capabilities.

The Russian Defense Ministry tested the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile last month, which can attain close to Mach 7 speed.

The weapon has the potential to pierce traditional anti-missile defense systems, and can attack both ships and land targets. 

wd/rs (Reuters, AFP)