Second day of the Nikitin trial

Publish date: October 20, 1998

Written by: Runar Forseth

ST. PETERSBURG (Bellona Web):

Aleksandr Nikitin’s defenders were more confident than ever, as theyentered St. Petersburg City Court for the second day of the trial. Therenewed confidence was based on last night’s reading of the secretdecrees that the indictment is built on.

"Reading the decrees at last, we understood why everything is being keptsecret," said Mr Genry Reznyk to waiting journalists. "They wouldn’twalk a step unless everything was secret. Yet I suppose the decrees willbe published eventually. They are not legal documents, but would fitbetter on the comic pages of a popular magazine."

The defenders found the decrees to be without substance as basis for alegal case. "I believe the prosecution must have been ashamed of thedecrees, as they in reality strips the indictment naked – much like thelittle boy commenting on the naked tsar."

A routine day in court
Today’s proceedings were routine work, according to Nikitin’s defenders.Most of the day was spent interrogating Nikitin on basis of the numerousdetails in the indictment. The interrogation will continue tomorrow. "The important thing for Aleksandr right now is to tell the truth," saidJury Schmidt at the press briefing after the day’s proceedings werethrough. "Telling the truth is easy and rather pleasant, although lessso when in court."

The defenders were not particularly saddened by the fact that theproceedings were closed to the public yesterday. "To be frank, theclosed doors do present certain benefits," said Reznyk this afternoon."We are now free to concentrate on the case, rather than play roles infront of an audience. But as defenders we are prepared for anysituation."

Neither does the defence team expect any more surprises in the case."The prosecution should expect a surprise. We are not here by choice, wewere called here by the FSB. They should expect a surprise," saidReznyk. He also pointed to the difficult situation the judge is in."There are problems because of the breaches that were done during thepreparations, which we will comment on later. As for the witnesses, webelieve them to be as much ours as the prosecution’s – although Nikitinhimself is our main witness."

Silence on the prosecuting side
Although the judge in accordance with standard proceedings carried outtoday’s interrogation, prosecutor Gutsan was surprisingly silent."Nobody can understand the prosecutor. He mumbled something at the endof the day, but that was all we heard from him," said Yury Schmidt.

Second day of trial

  • Alexandr enters the court (Photo Documentary // 1998-10-21)
  • "Today I will tell the Court the truth" (1998-10-21)
  • Nikitin trial observers a bit more optimistic (1998-10-21)