— Council of Europe should take action

Publish date: April 25, 2002

Written by: Jon Gauslaa

The Council of Europe should take action in the Pasko-case. That was the conclusion of today's session of its Sub-Committee of Human Rights.

Ivan Pavlov, lawyer of Grigory Pasko, gave an overview over the conviction of his client in the Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE PA) today. Judged from the questions and comments that followed, he used the oportunity well.

Spirit of stalinism

Pavlov focused particularly on the lack of evidence against his client, and that Pasko had been convicted for being in the possession of personal notes that allegedly contained ‘state secrets’. Pavlov also underlined that the basis for the conviction was secret military decrees, forbidding Russian military servicemen to have off-duty relations with foreign citizens.

— The Pasko-case illustrates how strong and alive the spirit of stalinism is within the Russian and Ukrainian legal systems, said Ukrainian parlamentarian Sergei Holovaty, after having listened to Pavlov’s speech. He added that one of the major problem within both systems is the role of the state prosecutor. — The prosecutor does not only act as a prosecutor, but also as a judge, he said.

Vitaulas Landsbergis, former president of Lithuania and one of the major architects of the downfall of the iron curtain in the early 1990’ies, said that the Russian system of secret laws is a trap that any thinking individual can be caught in. — If Pasko’s notes were so important, what then with the thoughts in peoples’ heads, he asked.


Has appointed Rapporteur

Sergei Kovaliev, the former ‘Human Rights Ombudsmann’ in Russia, said that the conviction of Pasko shows that Russian Courts are still obiedient servants of the system. He added that Pasko was arrested at a time when Vladimir Putin was still the head of the Russian security police, and that the Council of Europe should take action in this case.

Mr. Kovalev’s urge has to a certain extent already been followed up by the CoE PA. On Monday it appointed the German parliamentarian Rudolf Binding as its Rapporteur on the case.

Mr. Binding plans to visit both Pasko’s lawyers, representatives of the prosecution and if possible also Mr. Pasko himself. He is expected to present a preliminary report on the case on a later stage.

It is also likely that the CoE PA’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights will forward a request to the Russian authorities urging them to release Pasko from the pre-trial detention centre where he currently is being kept.


Grigory Pasko was arrested on November 20, 1997 and accused with treason through espionage. He was acquitted by the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok on these charges 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 Russian 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 has led to huge protests inside of as well as outside Russia. Both sides have appealed against it, but the appeal case has not yet been scheduled.

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