Whistle-blowing Russian scientist is served papers

The scientist who blew the whistle on Russia's continuing chemical weapons research was notified yesterday that his trial on a charge of divulging state secrets is to begin Jan. 6.

Vil Mirzayanov, a former researcher at a top-secret laboratory in Moscow, had revealed in September 1992 that work on new nerve gases was continuing despite the government's public renunciations of chemical weapons.


That disclosure came in an interview with The Sun and in a concurrent article he wrote for Moscow News with an environmental chemist named Lev Fyodorov.

Mr. Mirzayanov was arrested a month later and charged under a secret subsection of the law on state secrets. He was released after being held 11 days in the Lefortovo prison of the former KGB.


Work on highly toxic nerve gases reportedly had stopped early this year, but the formal charge delivered to Mr. Mirzayanov yesterday refers to "continuing research."

His case has drawn wide attention in Russia and in the United States. Scientists and human rights activists have called for the dismissal of the charges against him, but without success.

In April the Ministry of Security summoned Will Englund, a Moscow correspondent for The Sun, to Lefortovo concerning his interview with Mr. Mirzayanov.

Six government witnesses were listed in the document delivered to Mr. Mirzayanov yesterday -- Mr. Fyororov, Mr. Englund, two former colleagues from the lab and two Russian reporters. But apparently no subpoenas had been issued by late yesterday.

There was some question yesterday whether the trial would begin Jan. 6 because Mr. Mirzayanov's lawyer, Alexander Asnis, recently was injured in a car accident.