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Ex-head of virology state research centre Vector vanishes: Interpol alerted

By Olga Gertcyk
20 January 2017

Centre is one of only two repositories in the world of smallpox virus, and a key hub of research into the planet's deadliest diseases.

Professor Ilya Drozdov is accused by state investigators of misappropriating some 2 million roubles - then worth around $55,000. Picture: Vector State Research Centre

The disappearance of Professor Ilya Drozdov came to light in the latest twist in a long-running legal action over fraud and abuse of office during his leadership of State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology Vector, in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk, between 2005 and 2010.

After quitting the institute, he returned to his native Saratov, but has now vanished. 

It is now confirmed that last month the 63 year old scientist - who needed top vetting clearance to lead Vector - was put on the Interpol wanted list, indicating fears he has gone abroad. 

He is accused by state investigators of misappropriating some 2 million roubles - then worth around $55,000, while his tenure also led to an outflow of staff unhappy at his management style. 

Vector


Vector


Vector

Currently, Vector's priority research areas comprise tablet vaccines for smallpox and hepatitis B, vaccines for HIV, edible vaccines for virus hepatitis B and HIV based on trans gene plants. Picture: Vector State Research CentreRospotrebnadzor

A criminal case was filed against him in 2014, and a Novosibirsk court has now approved his arrest in absentia, said Elena Chernyayeva, a regional deputy prosecutor. The microbiologist allegedly used the cash to purchase an apartment. 

There is no suggestion he has taken secrets abroad, but the Interpol alert indicates the Russian authorities have lost track of his whereabouts. 

There was criticism of him at Vector for the poor pay of its expert researchers, and 'conflicts'.

In an open letter Pavel Korchagin, director of Prospekt, the largest construction company in Koltsovo scientific city, claimed executives were paid 'exorbitant' salaries while there were 'humiliatingly low wages' for regular employees and 'destruction of the most significant research areas'.

Map


Map


Koltsovo

Professor Ilya Drozdov headed State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology Vector, in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk, between 2005 and 2010. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Prospekt

Drozdov was also accused of overseeing the 'bullying' of innovative companies. 

Previously he headed an institute in Saratov, the Russian Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute 'Microbe', providing protection against dangerous deseases like bubonic plague, anthrax, and cholera.

Currently, Vector's priority research areas comprise tablet vaccines for smallpox and hepatitis B, vaccines for HIV, edible vaccines for virus hepatitis B and HIV based on trans gene plants, anti flu vaccines, development of anti cancer medication, and development of new methods for detecting smallpox and other viruses.

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