The prosecutor’s witness

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Surprising turn on day eight:

“Perovsky’s reaction to the questions in Court was strange, he appeared to be very nervous,” a clearly upset Yury Schmidt told at the briefing shortly after today’s session. “It was obvious that Perovsky does not remember very much, there are clearly black spots in his memory. We knew that he had been instructed to say bad things and he did that today in Court,” Schmidt continued.

A totally changed man
V. A. Perovsky clearly proved that he was the prosecutor’s man in court, even if he was one of the advisors to the now so famous report about the Northern Fleet. It all started when, in the early summer of 1995, he showed up at the Bellona Murmansk office after a few previous contacts. With him he had a lot of shocking pictures of the conditions at the storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel in Andreeva Bay.

“It was a worried man strongly concerned about the conditions and what might happen there,” says Bellona’s Igor Kudrik on the phone from Oslo. Kudrik received him at that time in the Murmansk office. Perovsky got permission from his boss in the Minatom institute VNIPET in St. Petersburg to cooperate with Bellona on these issues.

In the court today, his approach had changed completely. Part of the explanation came as a shock on Nikitin and his defenders in the Court room, when it suddenly became clear that a criminal case had been raised against Perovsky by the FSB. That case has been closed down, with Perovsky receiving an amnesty.

Guilty and allowed amnesty
“When the Judge asked about Perovsky’s own participation in the report, on chapters 4 and 7, he did not have time to answer,” said Schmidt, “as Gutsan jumped up and said ‘The criminal case against Perovsky is not pending because he was allowed amnesty and he is retired’.”

Schmidt was clearly upset: “So, closing Perovsky’s case as Gutsan implied means that he must have been declared guilty! We asked Perovsky about it, he looked at Gutsan and answered ‘Yes’. When did he get to know about this? ‘Last year,’ he told us.”

“All this should have been covered in the case files,” Schmidt said. “There is a special file on Igor Kudrik in those files, one on Aleksandr Pavlov and one on Mr. Artemenkov. At some point criminal cases were raised against all these, but none were carried through. There are, however, no papers regarding a Perovsky case in the files. This means that the declaration from Gutsan came as a big surprise to us.”

“How did it happen?” Schmidt had asked Perovsky. “Again he looked at Gutsan, and then I said ‘maybe you can answer without looking at Gutsan.’ Perovsky then answered that some people had come to where he worked. Nothing more was explained,” Schmidt said, clearly flustered and angrily ripping paper.

“They could not say what he was guilty of,” continued Schmidt, “Perovsky just said ‘It was my mistake, it was my mistake, I should not have participated in writing the report’.”

“Schmidt is breaking lawyer’s ethics”
Gutsan then had made a long speech, claiming that Schmidt was guilty of breaking lawyers’ ethics, and that he was trying to push the guilt over from Aleksandr to Perovsky. “I then had to state that I could not agree to this interpretation,” said Schmidt. “We are very much looking forward to the document of the resolution where the Perovsky case is put aside. Gutsan will bring this to Court tomorrow, on request from Judge Golets.”

“Gutsan had many questions to Perovsky,” said Aleksandr Nikitin. “The answers were apparently already agreed upon, and the implicit meaning was that Bellona had been working in the wrong place and should have done something else. I was astonished from a professional point of view at some of his statements. For example, he stated that there is no potential threat from Severodvinsk for any nuclear contamination. But in reality, Severodvinsk may be the greatest potential threat in the region! What in the world creates a nuclear danger if Severodvinsk does not?”

Nothing new from Rudenko
“I think Perovsky’s speech was very well rehearsed,” continued Nikitin. “Why would he have worked with us in 1995 if there was no potential threat?”

Schmidt added, “Perovsky also made a statement about the publishing of the report in Russia which was good for us. He said they had planned to have official discussions about the report in Murmansk and Arkangel’sk Counties before its release.”

“The other witness was OK, there were no particular new information to be gained from V. L. Rudenko,” Schmidt stated finally. A short excerpt from his appearance last year was published earlier today.

Representatives from the Canadian, U.S. and German consulates were present at the briefing this afternoon. So were representatives from various Russian organisations and the press.

Tomorrow, Golets is expected to define the schedule of the further proceedings of the case. There will be one witness tomorrow, and possible the two witnesses that didn’t turn up Wednesday. The week’s last briefing will be at 14:00, at restaurant Ambassador.

Siri Engesæth