A crew from the Russian central TV station RTR went out on St. Petersburg main street, Nevsky Prospekt, and asked the first ten persons if they knew of Aleksandr Nikitin, and, if so, did they think he was a spy. All ten answered yes to the first question and all ten answered no to the second.
Before the court was set this morning, several different environmental and human rights organizations arranged a rally opposite the street from the City Court. Aleksandr, we are with you was the text on the banner of the organization Soldiers Mothers, while Memorial, one of the most prominent Human Rights groups in Russia stated the Nikitin trial is a shame for Russia. Observers from Memorial were also represented in the courtroom today.
FSB video recording
St. Petersburgs local human rights group Citizen Watch had received written permission from the local police to arrange the rally. But even this fact didnt stop the MVD police guarding the city court from writing down the names of those participating. Meanwhile, FSB representatives, standing on the other side of the street, looked satisfied by just video recording the demonstration.
Russian and U.S. environmental groups
Logically, the outcome of the FSB vs. Nikitin case will be a guidance for the future work of the green groups in Russia. But the Nikitin trial has raised enormous interest from environmentalists all round the world.
The Sierra Club, the largest environmental organization in the United States, has supported Nikitins fight for the freedom of expression since Nikitin was put in custody in February 1996.
We consider Aleksandr Nikitin to be a hero, not a criminal, said Stephen Mills, Director of the Sierra Clubs International Program. We realize that many Russian citizens must consider environmental protection luxury only Westerners can afford. Unfortunately, unless the serious environmental and health issues raised by Nikitin and Bellona are addressed immediately, life in Russia will get much harder, and much more expensive, said Mills.
Many Russian environmental groups are represented in St. Petersburg this week. From the Chelyabinsk region in the South Urals, to the closed city of Sosnovy Bor just outside of St. Petersburg, NGO representatives hope for the best possible outcome of the Nikitin trial.
Next in line