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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Ditches Investigation Into Novosibirsk Scientists

The Federal Security Service said Monday that it had dropped an investigation of two scientists suspected of disclosing state secrets in a booklet to commemorate the anniversary of their institute.

The investigation had caused an outcry among rights advocates, who said investigators were classifying information that was already in the public domain as secret material, including extracts from an encyclopedia edited by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

The FSB said in a statement it was dropping its investigation of brothers Oleg and Igor Minin from the Novosibirsk Institute of Applied Physics because there was no evidence of wrongdoing. The statement said investigators would continue to seek individuals involved in the crime, suggesting others connected with the institute or the booklet could still face prosecution.

The Minin brothers' booklet, with a limited publication of 50 copies, was written to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Siberian department of the Institute of Applied Physics, which was founded by their father, Vladilen Minin.

The father said Monday he did not know why the FSB had closed the investigation of his sons.

"It's a secret. The FSB haven't told me anything yet," he said by telephone. "I'm on my way home, and so far I've only heard from journalists."

Ernst Chyorny, a member of the Moscow-based Public Committee for the Protection of Scientists, said he believed that "somebody in Moscow" ordered the case closed.

Chyorny said the booklet had used material from an encyclopedia that lists Ivanov, a possible contender for president, as its editor.

"I think the reason that they pulled the case was because of Sergei Ivanov," Chyorny said. "Word got out through the media that this was a trumped-up case, and somebody in Moscow realized that if they brought in the brothers for espionage, they would have to bring in Ivanov too."