Statement on the Alexander Nikitin Case

Publish date: June 20, 1997

Press release from Citizens’ Watch

Statement on the Alexander Nikitin Case

The severe violations of the rights of the accused, in particular his right to know the contents of the charges, still continue. As it was before, the charges are based upon unpublished decrees issued by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, while Nikitin is refused to get access to them. It deprives him of the ability to exercise his active and full defence.

As it was before, Nikitin is totally excluded from the process of investigation. The FSB investigative body rejected all the appeals forwarded by Nikitin and his defence council, with no ground provided for rejection. The appeals were aimed at establishing the truth of the case. Instead of setting up an independent competent expert group, the FSB established a team consisting of four officers in the ranks of colonel from the headquarters of the Russian Ministry of Defence. The same officers were conducting the two previous evaluations of the documents. Letting along the fact that these people are obliged by their earlier results of evaluation and being under direct supervision of the Ministry of Defence, in addition, they are the members of a "secret community" where the secret police (FSB) is very much in charge of firing or entitling people. The investigative body rejected the proposal of the defence council to put into the team of experts three academicians and other authoritative specialists.

The investigative body rejected all the questions to the group of experts submitted by the defence council. It rejected as well to let Nikitin provide his explanations to the expert group. Meanwhile, Nikitin had a legal right to take part in the work of the expert group.

As it was before, the conclusions drawn by the investigative body are based upon sub-legal acts, which Nikitin was refused to get familiar with. The conclusions were controversial and were lacking evidence. Being professional military officers and having no juridical education, the experts still made half of their conclusion from analysing the legal aspects, although not having been deputised to do so, as they are incompetent in these questions. Thus, they violated article 78 of the Russian Criminal Procedures Code which reads that experts are to look into questions within their knowledge and competence. This means that the part of the expert conclusion which deals with the legal aspects has been conducted by persons not mentioned in the document. In the meantime, the experts refused to look into the open sources provided by the defence council for chapter 8 of the report. This refusal was the ground for sufficient gaps in the final conclusion, to leave no possibility to establish truth within the case.

In the experts findings there were new, unexpected conclusions, which forced the investigative body to make considerable changes in the charges. As a result the charges, as they stand today, do not concentrate on the report itself, but on the notebook writings confiscated from Nikitin’s home during the search.

To our opinion, the investigative body has formed such a complicated charge, that it is almost impossible to comprehend it.

The unprecedented is the forming of the drawn charges. The charges of high treason are based upon the new Penalty Code. The high treason article 275 in the new Code is different in its core from the similar article in the old Penalty Code, more over, it presumes higher punishment – from 8 to 20 years in prison – instead of 10-15 years considered by the old Penalty Code. This step is illegal.

The charges related to disclosure of state secrets are based upon article 75 in the old Penalty Code. This article is identical to article 283 in the new Penalty Code (revealing of state secrets), but presumes stricter punishment.

In spite of all mentioned above, Nikitin agrees to start reading the documents of the case. We believe that the drawing of these charges, which violate the constitutional rights of a citizen of the Russian Federation, has been approved at very high levels of power within the Russian Federation. The defence council is confident about the fact that none of the impartial courts will agree to take this case for consideration. This confidence is based upon the fact that the charges contain a lot of gaps which can not be filled during a court consideration of the case. Hence, the FSB keeps counting on sending the case to a "pocket" dependant court. We are concerned about the fact that the hopes of the FSB investigative body have their solid grounds.

Lawyer, Jury Shmidt
Chairman of the Support Committee for Alexander Nikitin, Boris Pustyntsev

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