One of the principal characters of the Nikitin case files, is Mr. Oleg Y. Leikin. Throughout the case he has participated both as a ‘specialist’ and as an ‘expert’. So when prosecutor Gutsan last Friday announced that he would summon Leykin to the Court, it was no surprise that Judge Golets asked: Do you want to summon him as a specialist or as an expert? Gutsans answer did, however, raise a few eyebrows: As a witness
The ‘witness’ Leykin could not tell the Court anything about the factual incidents of the case. Nevertheless, his role in the case needs a closer scrutiny.
June 1999: Evaluation of the alleged damage of chapter 2.3.3
On October 29, 1998, the St. Petersburg City Court rejected the expert evaluation of the damage caused by the alleged disclosure of secret information about third generation naval reactors in subchapter 2.3.3 of the Bellona Report. The Court found that this evaluation, which estimated the damage to an amount equivalent to $ 900.000, was unclear and selfcontradictory. Thus, it ordered a new expert-evaluation of the issue.
On June 22, 1999, the FSB appointed new experts to evaluate the damage. One of the experts was Mr. Leykin, who ever since October 1995 has taken intensively part in the criminal case as a specialist.
For an outsider it may be somewhat difficult to understand the difference between an expert and a specialist. But generally spoken an expert is supposed to be independent and his evaluation is of direct evidential value for the case. The specialist takes direct part in the investigation, although his evaluation is not of the same evidential weight as that of the expert. What is clear, however, is that the same person according to Article 67 para. 3 (a) of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code, has no right to participate in a criminal case as an expert if he earlier has taken part in the same case as a specialist.
Thus, when the FSB appointed Leykin as one of the experts to evaluate the damage, the investigators blatantly violated the law. As a consequence, the expert evaluation that Mr. Leykin participated in, which reduced the alleged damage from $ 900.000 to $ 20.000, should be excluded as evidence.
October 1995: Evaluation of various confiscated documents
As early as on October 6, 1995, Mr. Leykin examined the version of the report that had been handed over to the FSB by Perovsky. Leykin then appeared as a specialist together with Mr. Slyusarenko. And one has to give it to them: The twosome did not waste their time, as they had been given the task only the day before (case files vol. 6 page 3-8).
Leykin and Slyusarenko also carried out specialist-examinations of the documents that in October 1995 were confiscated at the search of Nikitins flat, and some of these documents were forwarded for a more thorough evaluation of whether they included state secrets or not (vol. 6 page 15-45). Moreover, the two also examined a number of documents confiscated at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy, Bellona Murmansk, and at several of the witnesses in the case (vol. 6, page 51-71 and 98-112).
August 1997: Evaluation of the open sources
In August 1997, the FSB again used Leikin as a specialist along with Slyusarenko, this time to evaluate the open sources of the Bellona report (vol. 19, page 131-144).
Their conclusion shows that practically all information in chapters 2.3.3 and 8.2 of the report indeed is taken from open sources. Even if their evaluation is fairly adequate, it is however, not complete. It is also noteworthy that Leykin and Slyusarenko only have compared the Bellona Report with various open sources without evaluating whether the information they have not been able to find elsewhere, actually is secret or not.
Basing the charges on the disclosure of the information, which Leykin and Slyusarenko did not find in any of the open sources, would be ridiculous. This is probably the reason why the existence of their evaluation is not mentioned in the indictment, and why the FSB has continued to base the case on other and far more biased expert-evaluations.
The overview over Mr. Leykins role reveals that he has been given many hats throughout the case. The investigations and the prosecutions use of him is highly remarkable. At first, he was a specialist, taking a more or less direct part in the investigation, then an allegedly independent expert, and finally a witness.
It goes without saying that a person, who has all these roles in the same criminal case, sooner or later has to contradict himself. This is also the case with Mr. Leykin, whose performance in court today did not fortify his credibility.
As a witness he did, however, come up with his, until now, most interesting statement. When he said that the military always refer to the (secret) decrees of the Ministry of Defence and that no law not defined by the Minister is ever referred to, he confirmed what has been clear for those who has followed the Nikitin case the last years. The military is solely run by its own secret and if need be retroactive laws. Not even the Russian Constitution is applicable, as it has not been defined by the Ministry of Defence
However, it is not the military, but the St. Petersburg City Court that will determine the Nikitin case. One must only hope that the Court will feel more obliged to the Constitution, and Russias obligations under international law, than to secret and retroactive military decrees.