A Russian scientist who was said to have worked on a coronavirus vaccine was found dead with a stab wound outside a St. Petersburg high-rise, authorities and local media said over the weekend.
The body of geneticist and molecular and cellular biologist Alexander Kagansky, 45, was found in the courtyard of a 16-story apartment block Saturday. The Fontanka.ru news website reported that he had been visiting an old schoolmate on their birthday the day of his death.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which only identified Kagansky by his birth year of 1975, said it detained an unnamed 45-year-old suspect as part of a murder investigation.
The suspect denied that he had stabbed Kagansky and claimed that the scientist had wounded himself, Fontanka.ru reported, citing unnamed sources.
Fontanka.ru added that the 45-year-old suspect, who was due to be released Monday after 48 hours spent under arrest, is expected to take a lie detector test. The Nevskiye Novosti news website identified Kagansky’s old classmate as former Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper employee Igor Ivanov.
The outlet also reported that Kagansky, whose affiliations included the Maryland-based National Cancer Institute and the University of Edinburgh, was recently working on a Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland.
The Vladivostok-based Far Eastern Federal University, where Kagansky led the Genomic and Regenerative Medicine Center at its School of Biomedicine, said it mourns the death of an influential scientist whose works were regularly published in leading global scientific journals.