Bellona visits European Union headquarters: Strong and unanimous support for Nikitin from Brussels

Publish date: October 15, 1998

Written by: Theemu Lehtinen

On 12 and 13 October, a short but very effective special campaign was orchestrated in Brussels by Bellona Europa and the Bellona Foundation in order to add to the regular daily work by Bellona Europa to guarantee EU support to the case of Alexandr Nikitin. During the two days, nine private high level meetings in the European institutions and in the Mission of the Russian Federation were organised to gather further support to Alexandr at the top of the European decision making. Bellona met i.a. Cabinets of Commissioners van den Broek (Foreign Affairs and Human Rights) and Bjerregaard (Environment) as well as Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee for Environment of the European Parliament (EP).

A unanimous understanding was that Russian legal system is at crossroads. If the Nikitin case leads to a conviction on the basis of a secret retroactive decree, it will have a serious impact as a precedence on the legal certainty necessary for international projects and investments in the Federation of Russia.

The European Commission is considering of sending an observer from its Delegation in Moscow to St Petersburg on the opening day of the trial. The Enlarged Bureau of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee had requested the Commission to ensure that the trial is monitored by at least one of the institutions, and the final decision of Commissioner van den Broek is expected by the end of this week. This solution in strongly supported by Bellona, as it would certainly be beneficial to Alexandr and his possibility to have a fair trial. Furthermore, it would create a positive precedence enhancing the image of the Commission Delegations as active participants in the Common European Foreign and Security Policy.

As regards the Council of Ministers, direct contact will be established to the Austrian Presidency by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) so as to have a Presidency representative to follow the trial on permanent basis. Individual Member State Consulates in St Petersburg will be contacted by MEPs. It is also likely that MEPs will visit St Petersburg during the trial, although there will not be a permanent official EP observer.

When the trial begins on 20 October, Bellona Europa will be in Strasbourg at the EP’s October Plenary Session to ensure that information on the proceedings is disseminated immediately to the representatives of European people. In addition, being in Strasbourg will enable Bellona to maintain direct contact with the Council of Europe Secretariat who will also have delegated a special observer to monitor the case on the spot in St Petersburg.