Entering fourth week of trial

Publish date: December 13, 1999

Written by: Runar Forseth

It's Constitution Day here in Russia this Monday. The Nikitin trial is set to enter its fourth week Tuesday.

With proceedings scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, this week we will see some of the persons behind the multitude of expert evaluations that have riddled the case appear in Court. Or, rather, not see, since the trial will continue behind closed doors.

There is also some 40 % of the case files yet to be processed, presumably in the now so familiar ‘the prosecution has no comments’ style, while the defence will continue to hammer in their points on unlawful methods and other mistakes carried out throughout the investigation.

As of now, we have no information on what persons will appear in Court, or which particular expert evaluations they will discuss.

What is a secret

The output from the expert evaluations has been lists of sub-chapters and descriptions in the Northern Fleet report allegedly containing state secrets. Although the various committees have been comprised of the very same people from the eight department of the Ministry of Defence, the results of each assessment have varied hugely. There are also very clear indications that the committees have never concerned themselves with whether a certain fact in actuality was secret at the time, but only evaluated whether a topic should have been kept secret.

An alternative assessment, concerning the report’s chapter 2.3 and carried out by experts from Minatom, found nothing pertaining to state secrets. This evaluation did not make it into the final indictment – most likely because it didn’t fit in with the picture FSB tried to paint.

The Northern Fleet report, as have been pointed out earlier, is solely based on open, publicly available sources. If some of those sources actually revealed state secrets, that fact can hardly be blamed on the reader – such as Aleksandr Nikitin.

The Court dealt with the open sources during the second week of the trial. The expert hearings this week were not originally scheduled by the Court, but are carried out on the request of the prosecutor, Aleksandr Gutsan.