Nikitin case: Yet another expert evaluation

Publish date: April 28, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russian Security Police take three-and-a-half years to study three-and-a-half pages penned by Aleksandr Nikitin in a report detailing some of Russia's radioactive hazards

Russian Security Police (FSB) will summon an improbable fourth panel of experts for the dubious purpose of uncovering state secrets in two parts of a Bellona Northern Fleet report authored by Nikitin.

A review spanning more than three years has studied a subchapter detailing safety problems linked to third-generation nuclear installations and a chapter on accidents aboard nuclear submarines — three-and-a-half years to study three-and-a-half pages!

The expert group will consist of representatives of the 8th Directorate of Russian Defence Ministry HQ. The St. Petersburg City Court rejected the previous findings by the same experts in October 1998, ruling that they contained serious inconsistencies. The experts refused to properly evaluate the Report’s open sources, choosing to base their conclusions on secret and retroactive decrees in violation of the Russian Constitution.

The FSB-instructed panel-of-experts were not given specific legislative guidelines for conducting their evaluation, but encouraged to use secret and retroactive decrees to concoct a favorable outcome.

FSB investigator, Aleksandr Kolb, told Nikitin and his lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, that "there can be different interpretations of ‘a proper usage of laws.’"

"It’s reason to believe the experts will come up with the same conclusions as before," Jon Gauslaa, Bellona’s legal advisor, said. "This will lead the FSB to level a new indictment just as vague as the one the court rejected and still based on secret and retroactive decrees."

Gauslaa fears the current abuse of law will result in a situation where the case will be tossed back-and-forth between the FSB and court system for years.

Nikitin is accused of treason and divulging state secrets while co-authoring the Bellona report on radiation hazards in the Russian Northern Fleet. His case could have ended when the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation heard it in February. The court sent the case back to the security police for further investigation. On 11 March, the Prosecutor General’s Office granted the FSB three extra months to create a case against Nikitin.