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Alexandr Nikitin’s Acquittal Upheld by Supreme Court Presidium
September 13, 2000

The Russian Supreme Court Presidium, this morning (September 13, 2000), dismissed the Prosecutor General’s appeal against Russian engineer Alexandr Nikitin’s acquittal. The decision reportedly is final and cannot be appealed again. According to the Bellona Foundation, this decision marks the first time in the history of the Russian Security Services (the successor of the KGB) that a person charged with high treason has been fully acquitted.

Following more than ten months of detention and four years of investigation, Mr. Nikitin was brought to trial in late 1999 on charges of high treason and disclosure of state secrets for his work on a report published by the Bellona Foundation. The report describes the dangers posed by nuclear dumpsites and nuclear-powered submarines of the Russian Northern Fleet. On December 29, 1999, Mr. Nikitin was acquitted by the St. Petersburg City Court. The acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court on appeal in April 2000. The Prosecutor General then took the extraordinary step of calling on the full Presidium of the Supreme Court to review the appeal.

The Nikitin case was filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in mid 1999 but has not yet been addressed because of a large backlog of cases before the Court. Although Mr. Nikitin has been acquitted, it is our understanding that the European Court will begin evaluation of his case at the end of 2000 and will establish why the case - which appears to have had no legal grounds - was allowed to remain in the Russian judicial system for some five years without being determined. If the European Court rules in Mr. Nikitin’s favor, he reportedly would be paid just compensation.