"Dear ladies and gentlemen," addressed Yury Schmidt the audience of press and international observers at the briefing shortly after the court session closed this afternoon.
"Several years ago, it would be absolutely impossible that a case started by the FSB could go back to further investigation. This is the first time in the post-Soviet history that such a case has been returned for further investigation. This testifies of a high level of independence and courage by the judge Golets," said Schmidt.
Schmidt said that the judge was under enormous pressure by the FSB, but still he was courage enough to criticise the investigation conducted by the FSB and, eventually, send the whole case for further investigation. "This is not our final victory, but it still means a complete defeat of the FSB."
"There were 3 years of investigation. Over twenty volumes of documents for the case were written by the FSB and all the work was today discarded by a pen-stroke," said Schmidt. "It is impossible for the FSB to go back and get better evidence to raise the case against Nikitin again. I totally exclude that there can be found more evidence against Nikitin."
According to Schmidt the case can now take two directions: The prosecutor did not express that he would send a protest to the Supreme Court. This is, however, possible. There is also an option for the defence to, at least, appeal one part of the decision, the city confinement, but the defender would not exclude that defence counsel will appeal the whole case.
"We shall meet again when and if the case is heard in the Supreme Court, then we should have a gala press conference, but I think this case will never be returned to Court," concluded Schmidt.
Important to focus on case until victory
"I have learnt what is the KGB and what is the FSB, and I know for sure that it is impossible to have an easy victory over this organisation," said Aleksandr Nikitin. "Basically, if we say what the court has said to the FSB today, is that the three year investigation was a bullshit. It would have been naive of me to expect full acquittal today."
"Some people might be very upset about the victory today, but it is important to continue the focus on the case until it is finally won. Everybody who saw the face of Gutsan /prosecutor/ when the decision was announced could see he was not happy," said Frederic Hauge, president of the Bellona Foundation. Hauge said there have been a number of victories, but the major victory is still to be won – full acquittal of Aleksandr Nikitin.