– I will not answer that question!

Publish date: August 10, 2001

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

The first FSB-officers have taken the witness stand at the Pasko trial. None of them have been able to substantiate the charges. On the contrary, the impression of a fabricated case has been further fortified.

On August 6th, two witnesses were interrogated. Yury Oleynik, head of Department 8 of the Pacific Fleet staff (Department 8 belongs to the FSB), and Aydar Shakhetdinov. Mr. Shakhetdinov works at a technical missile base, but is also an associate of the FSB.

– We know only what is written in the press

The two witnesses had prepared themselves before taking the stand, as they both brought prints with dates and notes regarding Pasko’s visits to the various bases of the Pacific Fleet.

They read their prints, but when the lawyers cross-examined them regarding their knowledge of his alleged spy activities, both witnesses shrugged their shoulders. – We know only what is written in the press.

– I will not answer that question!

The first witness to be questioned on August 7th was FSB-major Alexander Egorkin, who was a key player in the investigation of the case. At the previous trial, Egorkin behaved boldly and insolent, as not only the prosecution, but also the judge had acted much in his favour. This time the court asked him several tough questions and he seemed to have lost much of his confidence. He was sweating, and several times using a phrase that at the previous trial did not exist in his vocabulary. – Let the Court make the decision.

Despite the judge’s friendly approach at the previous trial, the court still issued a resolution on July 20th 1999, regarding the illegality of Mr. Egorkin’s investigation methods. When the court drew the attention to this resolution, Egorkin said that it was not based on the law and that it did not correspond to the reality. He was, however, driven from bastion to bastion and had problems explaining why he had falsified the investigation documents. He blamed his secretary for one episode, and said the rest of the falsifications were made because of various ‘office formalities’. It was for instance necessary to backdate some documents because the office had been closed for a few days.

The judge then asked whether the FSB had made any actions against the person described as ‘the main spy resident’, Takao Dzyun of NHK’s Vladivostok branch. This seemed to be more than Egorkin could take. – I will not answer that question! Is that clear?!

– He told me what to do and I did it

The second witness of the day was Vladimir Dorovskih, head of the FSB-department at the Pacific Fleet. Mr. Dorovskih was the FSB-officer in charge of the surveillance of the activity in Pasko’s newspaper ‘Boyevaya Vaktha’ (‘Military Watch’), and was informed that Pasko was a Japanese spy. When the judge asked for the source of this information and what kind of espionage Pasko was engaged in, Dorovskih refused to answer, and asked the court to stop asking him such ‘untactful questions.’

He also admitted that he had no legal education, which was why he had violated the law while being involved in the investigation. – Egorkin told me what to do, and I did it, Dorovskih said.

Custom officers conspicuous by their absence

On August 9th the court was supposed to question the five custom officers who took part in the confiscation of the Pasko documents at Vladivostok Airport in November 1997, while Pasko was on his way to Japan. The documents were confiscated, as they allegedly contained state secrets, and handed over to the FSB. Although it turned out that the documents contained no secrets, Pasko was nevertheless arrested when returning from Japan on November 21st, 1997.

As the incident at the airport in many ways was the beginning of the case, Pasko’s defence-team had prepared a number of questions for the custom officers. However, none of them showed up, and thus the court session lasted only 30 minutes.

Still a long way to go

The retrial of Grigory Pasko has now been going on for exactly one month, but it is expected to continue at least two more months before it will be concluded.

At his first trial in 1999, Pasko was acquitted of espionage and instead convicted for abuse of office and was freed under an amnesty. Seeking a full acquittal, Pasko appealed, but so did prosecutors, insisting that he was a spy. On November 21st 2000, the Military Supreme Court cancelled the verdict and sent the case back for trial by a different judge. Pasko may face 20 years of forced hard labour if convicted.