Europe stunned by jailing of Pasko

The European Parliament is deeply concerned and stunned by the jailing of Grigory Pasko, a military reporter convicted for high treason in Vladivostok, the Russian Far East, on December 25th 2001.

In the resolution adopted on February 8th, the European Parliament members says that Grigory Pasko and his lawyer deny charges, stressing that the trials were punishment for Pasko’s reports on environmental abuses by the Russian navy. The parliament also refers to the statement that the verdict was passed under open pressure from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and was based on false evidence fabricated by that agency.

The Parliament reminds that under the Russian law on media ‘any journalist has the right to search, ask, receive and circulate information.’ Whereas according to the Russian Constitution, withholding information with respect to the environment or to catastrophes endangering human life is a criminal offence.

The Parliament also says in the resolution that the conviction of Grigory Pasko seems to involve several violations of the standards drawn up in the European Convention on Human Rights. Russia has ratified the Convention and is obliged to follow its provisions.

The lawmakers of the EU further call on Russia’s prosecutor-general, Vladimir Ustinov, to speed up procedures for the revision of the judgement of the court in Vladivostok. They further call on the Russian authorities to ensure that Pasko’s appeal of the verdict, which seeks a full acquittal, is heard swiftly and is handled in accordance with the general principles of the rule of law.

TV-6 jinxed, FSB propaganda on state television
The resolution is also calling on the Russian authorities to adhere to the principles of the freedom of speech in the example of TV-6 closure — the last remaining independent national TV-channel in Russia.

TV-6 journalists were working on a comprehensive report on the Pasko case, but channel broadcast was shut down a couple of weeks ago on the financial pretext.

In the meantime, the Kremlin-controlled national TV, ORT, broadcast in primetime a program on February 7th, which intention was to present Pasko as a Japanese spy. The program’s participants were mainly FSB’s officers. The message sent was that Pasko received a fair trial and deserves the punishment.
Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997. He was acquitted by the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok of treason through espionage on July 20, 1999, but sentenced to a three-year imprisonment for misusing his position and released on a general amnesty.
Both sides appealed the verdict. In November 2000 the Military Supreme Court cancelled the verdict, and sent the case back for a new trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The re-trial started on July 11, 2001 and ended on December 25, with Pasko being convicted to four years of hard labour for treason and taken into custody. The verdict is appealed again by both the defence and the prosecution.