Harassment of Aleksandr Nikitin continues: FSB attacks Nikitin’s lawyer

Publish date: May 5, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

“Stay away from this,” three FSB agents told Nikitin’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov at the entrance to his apartment in St. Petersburg.

“There are some ten of them, who are following me all the way around,” saysAleksandr Nikitin in an interview with Bellona WEB. “They are all dressedin black, wearing black glasses. Just like in a cheap detective story.”

Nikitin is presently awaiting the conclusion of his two-year investigationfor espionage, a case fraught with procedural irregularities, according tointernational observers and officials ranging form human rights groups toPresident Clinton. Nikitin, who is barred form leaving St. Petersburg, andhis attorneys are experiencing Soviet-style police harassment believed tobe a thing of the past.

KGB is still there

It all started on May 1, when Nikitin was on his way to meet a group ofjournalists in one of the cafÈs located on Moika River in St. Petersburg.Driving his Lada along Nevsky prospect, Aleksandr, his senses trained fromtwo years of investigations, perceived a Zhiguli with three passengersinside following him. To be completely sure he was shaded, Aleksandr took aquick turn into a narrow side street, the other vehicle still in pursuit.Not surprised, Nikitin parked his car outside the cafÈ and went in. Whatdid come as a surprise, though, was the discovery that one of the tires onhis car was cut when he left the meeting a little later. The car that hadfollowed him was parked on the other side of the street.

Back at home, Aleksandr could see the familiar car parked on his apartmentblock. At 10 p.m., Nikitin went for a walk together with his wife. Theytook their camera with them. Nikitin then proceeded to take pictures of hiswife, who happened to be positioned just in front of the FSB vehicle. In amatter of seconds, a man dressed in black leather stepped out of the carand demanded the film. When Nikitin declined, the man in black began abrawl. Thanks to passers-by, the fight was stopped. The man in blackretreated, joined by two more men who had appeared from around a cornerwhen the brawl began. “He was taking pictures,” Aleksandr heard one of themsay.

That night Aleksandr had to unplug his telephone. Beginning at 3 a.m., hereceived constant calls for people who had never lived at the apartment.

The next day, on May 2, the story repeated itself. This time two tires ofNikitin’s Lada were slashed. The same people he saw the day before waitedon the other side of the street, drinking beer.

On May 3, Aleksandr agreed that Ivan Pavlov, one of his lawyers, wouldfollow him home and try to talk to the FSB agents. Directly in front ofAleksandr’s home, they perceived one of the by now familiar cars. It wasevening, around 6 p.m. Pavlov approached the car, which had three peoplesitting inside. Upon the attorney’s questions who they were and why didthey followed Aleksandr, the three claimed Pavlov was mistaken. Aleksandrdrove Pavlov home and left him in the street about 300 feet from hisapartment. At the main entrance to his home, the lawyer was met by thethree persons he tried to talk to earlier this evening. They demandedPavlov’s identification. One man then took his ID and threw it into thegutter without even looking at it. “Stay away from this,” one of them said.Thereafter, they turned around and drove away.

FSB investigator surprised

Today, on May 5, Aleksandr Nikitin and his attorney Yury Schmidt went tothe FSB investigator in charge of the case, Aleksandr Kolb. Theinvestigator looked surprised when told what had happened. Schmidt informedthe investigator that an official complaint would be filed to theProsecutor of St. Petersburg with the request to submit to the defencecouncil the court decision for bugging Nikitin’s apartment and surveyinghis family.

Legacy of the Soviet times

“I was beaten up in the Soviet times by KGB students who did this as partof their exams,” Aleksandr Shtam, a former Soviet dissident, tells BellonaWEB. Today, he is editor-in-chief at the Posev publishing house.

“The persecution of Nikitin and his family is an attempt by the FSB to pushthem to agree upon a compromise – admit the charges and receive amnesty,” -says Yury Schmidt in an interview with Bellona WEB. “The FSB is stuck inthis embarrassing case and has no other way out than to use their oldtricks,” – adds Schmidt.