Aleksandr Nikitin was denied the travel passport Wednesday. The Russian passport authorities said the Russian Security Police stood behind the decision.
Aleksandr Nikitin who expected to become a free man Wednesday was wrong. The restrictions imposed on his right for the freedom of movement seem to continue for indefinite time. The Russian Security Police, or FSB, informed Nikitin Wednesday through the passport authorities (OVIR) that his travel pass could not be issued. The FSB referred to the fact the verification of Nikitin’s eight-year old security clearance is yet to be completed.
All Russian citizens are equipped with two passports. The one is used as an ID within the Russian Federation, while the travel (or foreign) pass is issued for travelling abroad.
Aleksandr Nikitin was acquitted of all charges by the ruling of St. Petersburg City Court on December 29 1999. The prosecution lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation the next day asking for case re-evaluation in the same court but by another judge. Nikitin was charged with espionage and disclosure of state secrets for his work as co-author of the Bellona Report The Russian Northern Fleet. After he had been arrested by the Russian Security Police (FSB) on February 1996, he spent 10 months in custody. Following his release, Nikitin has been under city arrest in St. Petersburg. His case was tried in St. Petersburg City Court between October 20 and 29, 1998, where the decision was to send it back to the FSB for further investigation. On November 23, 1999, the case was once again tried in the St. Petersburg City Court and ended with full acquittal.
The case verdict stated clearly that all the travel restrictions imposed on Nikitin earlier were to be abandoned. But the FSB that came out of this game as total loser still tries to get its revenge on Nikitin.
Few weeks ago, the FSB filed a request to the Nikitin’s working place at the Russian Defence Ministry, asking to provide information to what type of ‘state secrets’ Nikitin had access to in that position. Nikitin retired from the military service in 1992. Few years later, he had no troubles receiving his travel passport and he used on several occasions when travelling to Norway. This fact, however, would not confuse the FSB, which has apparently decided to make all possible kinds of trouble for him.
Aleksandr Nikitin expects that the answer from the Defence Ministry, signed by the local FSB representatives, would not give him the right to receive the travel pass for at least several years into the future. “This answer can be appealed again and again… all of it would take a lot of time and resources,” Aleksandr Nikitin says wearily, tired of almost a five-year struggle with the successor to the KGB.
The defeat of the FSB in the City Court in December last year was a big step to the final victory but not the final victory itself. The Supreme Court decision is still to come by the end of spring, but regardless of the decision in the Russian highest court, Nikitin would seem to be restricted in his freedom of movement for quite a while.