Nikitin defence primed and ready

Publish date: November 22, 1999

Written by: Runar Forseth

The rather large room at the House of Journalists in St. Petersburg was crowded by close to a hundred journalists and observers. A calm and optimistic Aleksandr Nikitin, supported by chief defender Yury Schmidt, said they were primed and ready for the court proceedings starting tomorrow.

Nikitin trial, take two:

“We are ready for this process,” said Aleksandr Nikitin. Stressing the thorough work he and his defenders had done on the indictment, he assured that both he and his defenders felt confident about the outcome of the trial that starts tomorrow. “If we get a fair trial, we will win,” Nikitin said.

The big question, though, and one that chief defender Yury Schmidt stressed, is whether the trial will indeed be fair. So far, the process against Nikitin has been going on for more than four years, and the case is riddled with human rights violations, and violations of current Russian law.

Schmidt also presented the background of the case, his speech to a large extent repeating the press release published earlier.

Human Rights complaint
Bellona legal adviser Jon Gauslaa said that a complaint has been filed with the Human Rights court in Strasbourg, the jurisdiction of which Russia ratified in 1998. The complaint refers to articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, concerning the right to have a criminal case resolved within reasonable time, and the use of retroactive and secret legislation. If the case continues after the upcoming trial, the complaint at Strasbourg will be extended, Gauslaa said. The complaint has been filed at Strasbourg with number 50178/99.

Both representative of the Helsinki Committee, Aaron Rhodes, and Bellona Foundation President, Frederic Hauge, stressed the importance of the FSB-initiated case against Aleksandr Nikitin being a case against the Russian people. It threatens all Russians’ right to information and their freedom of speech. Hauge also stated that the Bellona Foundation is an environmental organisation – no matter what the FSB says.


“We don’t have time for this”


“People have been scared from working with nuclear issues in Russia,” Hauge said, and described this as the chilling effect of the Nikitin case. “It is sad, that the Russian security police is harassing environmentalists, when the threats to the environment are so abundant in Russia. The situation on the Kola peninsula is threatening not only the local population, but also the vast fisheries that Russia and Norway share in the northern seas.” Hauge also said that winning the Nikitin case now is very important, as the Bellona Foundation wants to get on with its real work. “We don’t have time for this,” he said. “Without the information in the Northern Fleet report, the necessary clean-up at Kola would be impossible. Now we need to work on finding solutions to the real threats, which are those against the environment, in stead of fighting against the reactionary forces of the FSB.”

US Congressman David Skaggs, said that the world has a common interest in the Nikitin case: the rule of law. He also said the case clearly shows the link between environmentalism and human rights.