Nikitin defence demands end to legal “foot-dragging”

Publish date: April 28, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Shirking the burden of proof, European and Russian legal principles, St. Petersburg's Prosecutor General and Russia's Security Police cynically assert their authority

Exasperated by a recent Prosecutor General’s decision to grant Security Police Investigators more time to brood over his case, Aleksandr Nikitin’s lawyers lodged a complaint with the St. Petersburg City Court on April 19th.

The defence team listed a number of provisions that clearly illustrated how prolonging the investigative period by three months violated both the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Supreme Court had already instructed the FSB to form a new expert evaluation of the information gathered by Nikitin.

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 (FSB) for further investigation.

The FSB regained control of the investigation on March 11th, receiving an extra month to improve their case in the process. When the extra time neared an end, clerkish FSB investigator, Aleksandr Kolb, informed Nikitin of a successful bid to extend the investigation another three months.

"The FSB had been doing nothing in this respect since they received the case back for further investigation five weeks ago," the defence complaint wrote. "It is an obvious and deliberate foot-dragging." District court in Oktyabrsky, St. Petersburg later received a transfer of the complaint.

In February 1999, the defence appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office and urged that the case be dismissed, rather than prolonged. The Prosecutor General’s Office agreed, saying the case "has become long and drawn out." Then in a sociopathic about-face, it answered the FSB’s cynical plea for more time — extending the deadline to July, 1999.

Nikitin’s lawyers demanded an end to the cynical abuse of Russian law the additional investigation represents and for the FSB to come to some conclusion that might annul Nikitin’s city arrest.