FSB dissatisfied with Nikitin judge

Publish date: November 18, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The Russian Security Police (FSB) expressed deep dissatisfaction with the court decision in the Nikitin trial, in a tabloid newspaper based in St. Petersburg earlier this week.

A St. Petersburg-based newspaper called Kaleidoscope published an article this week accusing Aleksandr Nikitin and the Bellona Foundation of espionage. The newspaper employs FSB personnel in its editors’ counsel. The article itself contained no by-line.

According to the article, the Nikitin case was sent back to further investigation mainly because the judge found inconsistencies within the expert conclusion on how great a financial damage the Bellona report cost Russia. The unnamed authors of the article suggest that the damage inflicted by Nikitin to "the prestige of the Russian Federation and the Russian Navy by making internal issues public" should be estimated. The impact of Nikitin’s example, described as "acting like a spy and getting all the glory," on "the moral condition" of military officers should also be evaluated.

"The real damage inflicted by Nikitin will be precisely defined in the course of the Third World War, by the number of [Russian] submariners perished when attacked by American depth bombs," says the article.

ANOTHER judge to handle the case
The article then goes on to assure that the case will be taken away from Judge Golets and handed over to "ANOTHER judge" (emphasis in the original).

Judge Sergey Golets sent the Nikitin case back to further investigation on October 29. The judge said in his decision that the prosecution’s charges were too vague, and that the estimates made by the military experts on the amount of alleged damage to Russia’s security were neither convincing nor comprehensible. This decision came as a heavy blow both to the prosecutor and the FSB.

Both the prosecution and Aleksandr Nikitin have appealed to the Russian Supreme Court, protesting the St. Petersburg City Court ruling. The defence demands a final dismissal of the case, rather than prolonged city arrest and further investigations, while the prosecutor wants the trial to continue on its present basis.

The Supreme Court hearing on the appeals is expected to take place by the end of December or in early January 1999.