Russian Ambassador called to Norwegian Foreign Ministry

Prior to the hearing of the Russian Prosecutor General’s appeal to the Full Presidium of the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Aleksandr Nikitin scheduled for August 2, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry issued a call to the Russian Ambassador. Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials would like to hear a first hand report regarding the official position of the Russian government towards the Nikitin case.

Aleksandr Nikitin, who was charged with high treason and divulging of state secrets for co-authoring Bellona’s report on radiation hazards in the Russian Northern Fleet, was fully acquitted in December 1999 by St. Petersburg City Court. The acquittal was upheld by the Russian Supreme Court in April 2000. The official Oslo praised Nikitin’s acquittal.

Nikitin visited Norway shortly after he received his travel passport in recognition of the support granted by this country during the 4,5 nightmarish years of persecution. During his stay in Norway Nikitin was received by Thorbjorn Jagland, Norwegian Foreign Minister, who said he was pleased with the outcome of the trial, which worked as a positive indicator of the evolving rule of law in Russia.

The news about the Prosecutor General’s appeal came as a shock to all who was engaged into the Nikitin case, including the Norwegian government.

Nikitin was informed about the upcoming Supreme Court hearing about two weeks ago while he was touring the United States. He went back to Russia to face the trial. About the same time the Russian President Vladimir Putin went to G-7 meeting in Okinawa to be confronted with the questions regarding the Nikitin case.

Prior to the top meeting in Okinawa, nine influential members of Congress and Senators forwarded a letter to Mr. Putin, asking him to “personally ensure that no new investigation of Mr. Nikitin is authorised and this matter is resolved promptly and positively.”

Nikitin also received an extensive support from human rights and environmental organisations from all over the world, which made their statements urging the Russian government to stop persecution of the prominent environmentalist.