Russian treason trial fails
Report from Radioactive Times Volume 4, Number 1, June 2000 (content not updated)
Retired Russian naval officer Captain Alexander Nikitin has been cleared of treason and espionage after revealing a pollution risk from abandoned nuclear submarines.
We reported in RaT Vol. 2 No. 2 (September 1997) that Nikitin was in prison accused of leaking state secrets.
His 1996 report for Bellona, a Norwegian environmental group, concerned nuclear submarines abandoned in a remote shipyard near Russia's border with Norway. They held spent nuclear fuel that could leak, overheat or explode, he said.
Prosecutors with the Federal Security Service - one of the successors of the KGB - had demanded that Nikitin be sentenced to 12 years in a labour colony and have his property confiscated.
Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and described the case as "one of the most controversial criminal cases in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union".
Just after Christmas the St Petersburg city court threw out all the the accusations. Judge Sergey Golets said they were a violation of the Russian constitution, because the information Mr Nikitin revealed was only classified after he had been charged. Mr Nikitin and Bellona had said the information was not secret but came from public records, including school textbooks.
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