Yury Shablenko and Alexander Onopriyenko took the witness stand on August 15. Both men serve in the military. They participated in the search of Pasko’s flat in November 1997 and in the writing of the protocol of the documents that were confiscated at the search.
At the first trial the Court disqualified the said protocol as evidence, because the signatures of the witnesses of the search were falsified. Both Shablenko and Onopriyenko confirmed that the falsification took place. The witnesses also told the Court that they at the search were assisted by several FSB-officers, while the protocol only mentions the participation of one sole FSB-officer, who falsely denoted himself as ‘investigator’.
– The testimonies of Shablenko and Onopriyenko were significant as they confirmed that most of the so-called evidence against Pasko are collected illegally or downright falsified, said co-defender Ivan Pavlov after the Court session. They will therefore be an important part of the basis for our plea for a full acquittal.
Pasko kept paper alive
The first witness to give his testimony on August 16 was Mr. Kolesnik, an employee of the Russian Department of the NHK TV-company. He said that Pasko several times had been talking with the Japanese staff at the office, but never in isolated rooms.
Kolesnik also said that he had problems with understanding why the Japanese was interested in some of the issues Pasko and others had worked with. During the cross-examination it became clear that Kolesnik had more problems than the others with getting his works published. – It seems like part of his testimony was based on jealousy, said Ivan Pavlov afterwards.
Mr. Verkhoglyad, the assistant chief-editor of the newspaper Pasko worked for, ‘Boevaya Vakhta’, said in his testimony that Pasko by far was its best and most important contributor. Without Pasko’s articles the paper could hardly have existed, he said.
Despite being its best writer, Pasko had still received six disciplinary penalities from the chief editor of the newspaper. The Court examined these penalities, and it turned out that they had no legal basis. Pasko was a sharp writer, and admiral Khmelnov had several time phoned the chief editor and abused him. Thus, it became clear that the latter had punished Pasko in order to satisfy the admiral.
Trial to resume on August 21
The next court session is scheduled for August 21. Still almost thirty more witnesses will be interrogated.
Journalist 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. Both sides appealed the verdict, which was cancelled by the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court on November 21, 2000, and sent back to Vladivostok for a re-trial. The re-trial started on July 11, 2001 and will probably not be concluded before late September.