Continued witness interrogations

Publish date: August 8, 2001

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

The re-trial against journalist Grigory Pasko has reached its fifth week. So far the Court has questioned a number of journalists and officers, of whom none have brought anything for the prosecution's benefit.

The Pasko trial:

Below follows a chronological overview over the testimonies given between July 24 and August 3. It is noteworthy that several witnesses claim that the FSB has falsified their previous statements or tried to persuade them to give false testimonies. Thus, the impression of a fabricated case based on false charges has been further strengthened throughout the last two weeks.

July 24

According to the charges, Pasko has handed over information pertaining to state secrets to the Japanese state-run NHK television. The Court’s questioning of two Russian employees of the Vladivistok office of NHK, journalists Unagaev and Deka, was therefore connected with some interest. The two journalists, who have worked for NHK since 1992, did not bring anything for the prosection’s benefit, as they said that Pasko’s work for the NHK was solely connected to the ecological safety of the region, a theme of huge importance both for Japan and Russia.

A third witness, Ralin, who also co-operated with the NHK, rejected his previous testimony that he in the autumn of 1997 in NHK’s Vladivostok office had seen a scheme of the military base in Sysoeva Bay, similar to the one Pasko is accused of having handed over to NHK. Ralin said that the interrogators had falsified the interrogation protocol.

July 26

The correspondent of the newspaper ‘Vladivostok’, Mr. Gurko, did not say much of interest for the case, while Mr. Polutov, an academic of the Far Eastern State University who had co-operated with the newspaper ‘Tokio Simbun’ said that he disliked Pasko and had called him an ‘informer’. Also these statements are of little relevance for the case. Aleksandr Tkachenko of the Russian Pen-club said that they probably were a result of his envy to Pasko. – He wants to be the main dissident in Vladivostok.

July 27 and 30

The correspondent of ‘Izvestiya’ Mr. Zhunosov characterised Pasko as a great professional, while general-lieutenant Shevchenko said that Pasko visited military objects only with the command’s permission. Colonel Kabir Amirov, the chief of the Pacific Fleet’s department for emergency actions, gave a similar testimony on July 30.

August 1

Of the six witnesses that were summoned only 1st rank captain, Vasiliy Voroshbit showed up. He told the Court that the information on the decommissioning of missiles was not classified. Besides, the conclusion that there were state secrets in the documents related to these issues that were confiscated at Pasko’s flat had been prepared by the FSB. The FSB then went to the officers of the Pacific Fleet’s staff, and persuaded them to sign the phony conclusions.

August 2

Vladimir Golub, captain of the 1st rank and the head of a department of the technical direction of the Pacific Fleet testified that Pasko had permission to visit his base in order to film various objects. Afterwards they scanned the tapes and as far as Golub was concerned no secret items had been filmed. Later FSB officers tried to persuade him to say that there were state secrets in various documents confiscated from Pasko, but he had refused.

Another captain of the 1st rank, Mikhail Ushakov, the secretary of the Military Council of the Pacific Fleet, said that Pasko had attended a meeting of the Council in September 1997, and that no secret issues had been discussed in his pressence.

Nikolai Bomko, the chairman of the trade union of several plants in the area, told the Court that Pasko had interviewed him about the situation in plants that had problems with paying the workers’ salary. Information on such topics is unclassified.

August 3

Lieutenant colonel Anatoly Lukyanez, former head of the medical service of the base in Sysoeva Bay, was shown the scheme that Pasko is accused of having handed over to NHK. Lukyanez said that there was nothing secret in the document. The commander of the base, Nikolay Orau, said that the scheme, which is drawn before 1985 and very inaccurate, probably is secret. He was, however, not able to substantiate his opinion in a credible manner.


Grigory Pasko was arrested in November 1997 on charges of espionage on behalf of the Japanese TV-station ‘NHK’. He was acquitted of espionage in July 1999, but found guilty of abuse of office and freed under a general amnesty. Seeking a full acquittal, Pasko appealed the verdict, but so did the prosecution, insisting he was a spy. The Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court cancelled the verdict in November 2000, and sent the case back to Vladivostok for a re-trial. After several postponements, the re-trial started on July 11, 2001. It is expected to continue at least until late September.