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Gadkari's Russian host is a controversial inventor

Vladimir Radyuhin



Nitin Gadkari

MOSCOW: The coming private visit of BJP national president Nitin Gadkari to Russia this week risks landing the party and its leader right smack in the middle of a scandal involving his host.

A BJP release said Mr. Gadkari would visit Russia from September 6 at the invitation of the “Water Freedom Revolution” to “study various aspects of this movement,” which is “dedicated to promotion of importance of clean drinking water.”

During his five-day visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Mr. Gadkari will be “guided,” according to PTI, by Viktor Petrik. The BJP release describes him as a “Nobel laureate” and “former NASA scientist,” who “has invented the water purification technology.”

However, in Russia 64-year-old Petrik is a highly controversial figure lauded by some as a “Russian Leonardo da Vinci” and denounced by others as a charlatan and fraudster. His supporters include Parliament Speaker Boris Gryzlov of the ruling United Russia Party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Among his detractors are venerable Russian scientists.

Mr. Petrik's best-known products are his household water filters, which he says use atom-thick sheets of carbon to deliver unique results.

However, a special commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences set up to expose pseudo-science concluded that Mr. Petrik's filters may be dangerous for health. In a report published five months ago, the commission said it had studied 11 technologies invented by Mr. Petrik and found that they were all ineffective and had no relation to science.

Mr. Petrik's plan for clean water with the help of his “nanotechnology filters” has been labelled by Russian media as “Petrikgate.” Mr. Gryzlov and the United Russia Party pushed the government to adopt a $500-million programme “Clean Water” based on Mr. Petrik's filters. However, the government-approved programme makes no mention of Mr. Petrik's filters, and officials said filters would be chosen competitively. The ruling party has recently sought to dissociate itself from the controversial inventor.

Mr. Petrik is not a Nobel laureate, nor has he ever worked for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. His only academic qualification is an undergraduate degree in psychology obtained from Leningrad State University in 1976, according to university records.

The “Water Freedom Revolution” movement has only Indian names among its leaders, according to the movement's website, and has never been heard of in Russia.

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