The restrictions imposed on Aleksandr Nikitin’s freedom of movement was finally lifted last weekend. The Russian passport authorities, OVIR, gave him his passport back after checking Nikitin’s credentials with the FSB.
This afternoon (local time), Nikitin arrived in Oslo to visit his colleagues at the Bellona main office. For Aleksandr Nikitin, this surely is solid verification that his more than four year long ordeal under espionage accusations is finally and irrevocably over.
Until last weekend, Nikitin had been without his international passport since the FSB arrested him on February 6 1996, keeping him in pre-trial custody for 10 months before releasing him – upon the order of the Prosecutor General in Moscow – to the confinement of city arrest.
Not allowed even to leave the city of St. Petersburg for another place in Russia without the FSB’s active consent, Nikitin received a total of eight different indictments and one failed attempt at going to trial, before being finally cleared of all accusations in St. Petersburg City Court on December 29 last year. The verdict clearly stated that all travel restrictions should be abandoned, but as the prosecution appealed to the Supreme Court, this never happened.
On April 17 this year the Supreme Court confirmed the St. Petersburg verdict, finally ending one of the most infamous “legal” processes in modern Russian history. The fact that the FSB actually did let Aleksandr have his passport back, suggests that the “spy hunters” in all probability has finally given up on its lost “case”.
Aleksandr Nikitin, an employee of the Bellona Foundation and co-author of the foundation’s report on the enviro-nuclear challenge posed by the Russian Northern Fleet, was charged with espionage and disclosure of state secrets in 1996. A total of eight indictments have been prepared by the Russian security police, all of them neither convincing nor substantial. The eighth indictment was weighed and found too light by St. Petersburg City Court Judge Sergey Golets on December 29 last year. His ruling was confirmed by the Russian Supreme Court on April 17 this year.