Amnesty International: Nikitin process may enter vicious circle

Publish date: November 6, 1998

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

"Basically, the whole Nikitin process may enter a vicious circle. The judge will return every new indictment from the FSB back for additional investigation. And the FSB will be coming up with the same indictment again and again," says Mariana Katzarova, Amnesty International's researcher on the Russian Federation.

Amnesty International’s Bill Bowring, a human rights lawyer, observed the Nikitin trial in St. Petersburg last month. Amnesty argued that Nikitin’s situation after the trial violates both his constitutional right to have the charges against him settled by a court of justice, and his right under international law to be tried within reasonable time.

After last month’s trial, where judge Sergei Golets sent the case back for new investigation, Amnesty International says they haven’t changed their position. "We still believe Nikitin should be unconditionally acquitted," says Katzarova. She underlines that judge Golets has been ‘very courageous’ in sending the case back, given that it was raised by the FSB, successor to the former KGB. Never before in Soviet and Russian history was an indictment of treason through espionage dismissed by the court.

Amnesty says another round of investigations into the Nikitin case will yield nothing new. "Nikitin has been under investigation for three years, and the prosecution has not managed – and never will manage – to come up with an indictment with a tenable judicial foundation," says Katzarova. Amnesty International adopted Aleksandr Nikitin as a prisoner of conscience in 1996, the first Russian citizen to be named so in post-Soviet history.