Nikitin ‘strips’ nuclear industry

Publish date: June 16, 2000

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russian Nuclear Minister is stripped of 10,000 rubles for calling Nikitin a spy.

A district court in St. Petersburg ruled Friday that Yevgeny Adamov, the Russian Nuclear Minister, damaged Nikitin’s reputation by calling him publicly a spy. The court said that Adamov has to compensate Nikitin for the damage by paying 10,000 rubles (an equivalent of $350). Newspapers and agencies that distributed the high-ranking lies are obliged to publish a disclaimer.

“I can say with all responsibility that more than half, 70 per cent, of information collected by Aleksandr Nikitin for Bellona foundation has nothing in common with the environment,” Adamov told Radio Echo in Moscow on 8 May 1998.

“These (questions raised in the report) were normal, professionally set up intelligence questions.”

On 5 November 1998, Adamov popped up in media reports that quoted him as saying Nikitin “was disclosing critical information, violated state secrecy rules and … was inflicting damage to the country.”

These and other quotations prompted Nikitin’s lawyers to file a suit against the official.

Aleksandr Nikitin was accused of high treason and divulging state secrets while co-authoring the Bellona report on radiation hazards in the Russian Northern Fleet. His case that had been lasting for four and half years was ended by St. Petersburg City Court with full acquittal in December 1999.

Accusations against Nikitin stem from a subchapter in the report detailing safety problems linked to third-generation nuclear installations and a chapter on accidents aboard nuclear submarines.

Minatom finds state secrets when told to

In his excitement to condemn Nikitin, Adamov overlooked the findings of his own ministry. On 21 September 1996, experts from the Nuclear Energy Ministry (Minatom) concluded that the subchapter on third-generation nuclear reactors contained no state secrets. The experts from Minatom refused to evaluate the chapter regarding accidents onboard nuclear submarines having said it was not their area of expertise.

But once it came to Adamov’s knowledge that Nikitin filed a suit against him in 1998, the Minister ordered a new expert evaluation that, according to Adamov’s lawyer present at the trial, concluded there were state secrets in the Bellona report. The evaluation, however, was not made available for the Judge in this court. The lawyer said it was “classified.” It was not made available to the court that acquitted Nikitin either, thus it was considered illegible and any reference to it was irrelevant for the court.

Adamov’s lawyer would not specify whether his client was going to file an appeal to the verdict. It is certain, however, that both the expenses related to the legal services and the eventual fee Adamov is obliged to pay will not come from the Minister’s own pocket.