On March 2 1997, Erik Jurgens, rapporteur on the case of Alexander Nikitin,submitted his report to the members of the Legal Committee of the ParliamentaryAssembly of the Council of Europe.
When describing the case Mr. Jurgens indicates that the Legal Committeewas concerned especially about the following points:
- the lack of specification of the grounds on which Nikitin’s arrest and incarceration were based;
- the use of secret decrees as basis of accusations;
- the unwillingness of the investigators to accept an independent opinion to clarify the factual basis of Nikitin’s claim that all the information that was (to be) published comes from public sources.
Mr. Jurgens states in his report that he was shocked to discover thatin official publications and utterances, Nikitin was described as a traitor,a spy etc. – in clear violation of the presumption of innocence.
Concluding his findings, Mr. Jurgens states that although Alexander Nikitinwas released from preventive detention on December 14 1996, this by no meansgives the assurance that the accusations against him have been dropped.
"Considering the importance of the Nikitin case as a test case forthe rule of law in Russia, especially concerning the role of the securityservices and the Procuratura, and considering it also as a test case forthe possibility of right to be informed as to dire ecological hazards, suchas those deriving from the nuclear reactors on board ships of the NorthernFleet…, I propose to the Committee to regard the case of the prosecutionof Alexander Nikitin as still pending before the Committee, and to ask therapporteur to report any new developments which would necessitate puttingthe matter before the Assembly for debate and resolution," writes Mr.Jurgens in the conclusion.
Russia became a member of the Council of Europe in February 1996, thesame month as Alexander Nikitin was arrested. Rapporteur to the Councilof Europe Mr. Jurgens visited St.Petersburg on February 10 this year.