“Doom the NATO spy,” FSB cries

Publish date: April 15, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russian Security Police gain a lift from anti-Western feeling over Kosovo –, and permission from Moscow to spend more time wallowing over the Nikitin case

Russian security police (FSB) put a new spin on their investigation of Aleksandr Nikitin on April 12. The Prosecutor General’s Office in Moscow gave the FSB investigators three more months to come up with something.

Nikitin is accused of high treason and divulging state secrets for co-authoring a Bellona report on radiation hazards in the Russian Northern Fleet. His three-and-a-half-year wait for justice did not end in the Russian Federation’s Supreme Court in February. The court sent Nikitin’s case back to the security police for further investigation.

The FSB regained control of the investigation on March 12th and were given an extra month to investigate. They didn’t bother. Clerkish FSB major, Aleksandr Kolb, didn’t even have time to meet the accused. He preferred to inform Nikitin’s defence team over the phone of the three-month extension to his investigation.

"They are fooling around waiting for some changes in Russia which could help them win the case," Nikitin said in a telephone interview from St. Petersburg.

And change is occurring. On March 30th a pro-FSB television program in St. Petersburg blamed Nikitin for clearing the way for NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia by proving Russia was no longer a nuclear super power and thus not to be feared.

Nikitin’s defence team said the FSB will gather a new expert group to evaluate the contents of Nikitin’s contribution to the Bellona report. The St. Petersburg City Court rejected the results of previous expert evaluations in October 1998, saying they were inconsistent.

The defence lodged an appeal with the St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office demanding an independent expert evaluation for February 1999. The appeal was forwarded to the FSB. They have yet to respond, although almost two months have passed.

"If they (FSB investigators) wanted they could have got over with the case a long time ago. Now they’re waiting for the right moment," Nikitin added.

Nikitin fears the prevailing anti-western spirit so apparent in Russia of late will reinforce the FSB’s efforts to "doom the NATO spy." His fears are well grounded in a country where the rule of law is far from being established.