– One law is enough

Publish date: August 15, 2001

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

Halfway through its list of witnesses, the prosecution's attempts of establishing Pasko's guilt are still leading nowhere. Below follows an overview over the recent events.

On August 10, the Court interrogated witnesses Nikolay Lysenko and Gennady Tischenko. It also watched Pasko’s 30-minutes film ‘Zone of increased danger’. The film was made in 1993 and shown on Vladivostok TV. It includes the famous shots of the Navy’s dumping of radioactive liquid waste in the Sea of Japan.

– I am not aware of the law

Nikolay Lysenko, a former vice-admiral of the Pacific Fleet, who were engaged in nuclear submarine maintenance, told the Court that he, together with the head of the fleet’s staff, had signed documents that allowed Pasko to visit and film closed locations.

The former admiral turned out to be no great admirer of the freedom of the press as his personal view was that journalists should not write about the environmental problems of the fleet. But he could not say that Pasko’s work had inflicted any damage to the fleet. -He has however, inflicted damage to me since I now have to waste my time in Court, he added.

Mr. Lysenko also said that his opinion was that information about the departure of the train with spent nuclear fuel, which is a part of the charges against Pasko, was confidential (although not a state secret). – But I am not aware of the law regarding these issues, he admitted.

– One law is enough

The second witness of the day was Gennady Tischenko, who at the time Pasko met him was heading ‘the Committee of veterans of navy divisions involved in operations dangerous for the health’. Tischenko had asked Pasko to write an article about the veterans’ situation, after the Duma had wanted to reduce their pension, and had handed over to Pasko various information about nuclear problems.

He suggested that the Court should interrogate the specialists of the technical department of the Pacific Fleet about the decrees of the commander of the Pacific Fleet regarding the formation of a list of veterans involved in health-hazardous operations and nuclear accidents. The lawyers then asked him what laws he had used while being the chairman of the Committee. Tischenko answered that he had used decree No. 010 issued in 1990 by the then USSR Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov. When being asked if he knew any other laws, he said that one law was enough.

No secret information

Anatoly Nikolayev, head of a customs department at Vladivostok Airport was interrogated on August 13. Nikolayev said that he had conducted the customs control of Pasko at the airport in November 1997 under the supervision of five FSB officers. The latter had been eager to arrest Pasko and were surprised when they found no documents stamped ‘secret’ in his luggage. Nevertheless they demanded that Nikolayev should confiscate the documents, and he had then decided to take some documents ‘for storage’, while Pasko was allowed to leave for Japan.

These documents were later sent to the FSB and analysed by experts who could find no secret information in them. Nevertheless, Pasko was arrested when he returned on November 21, 1997, and charged with handing over state secrets to Japan.

Nikolayev could not tell on what grounds the documents had been confiscated. He did not know if any law provisions allowed the action, but referred to some ‘special decree’ issued by the customs chief or the State Customs Committee. He could neither point out the number, the year, or the name of the person who had signed the decree.

Halfway through the list of witnesses

The trial against Grigory Pasko has now entered its second month. The Court is still only halfway through the list of witnesses, and there are also several experts that will be interrogated. Thus, the trial will probably continue at least until late September.

At his first trial in 1999 Pasko was acquitted of espionage and in stead 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 21, 2000 the Military Supreme Court cancelled the verdict and sent the case back for trial by a different judge. If convicted as charged Pasko will face a minimum sentence of 12 years of hard labour.

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