Aleksandr Nikitin, the retired naval officer accused of treason for work done with a Norwegian environmental group, won a reprieve late last week when a St. Petersburg judge ruled that prosecutors had failed to compile adequate evidence against him. Nikitin went to trial on October 20, more than two-and-a-half years after first being arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service for contributing to a publication that outlined the dangers posed by the nuclear wastes of Russia’s Northern Fleet (Los Angeles Times, Ekho Moskvy, October 29; see also the Monitor, October 21).
Nikitin, his legal defense team and human rights groups inside and outside of Russia have argued that the former submarine commander revealed no state secrets in the work that he did for the Norwegian environmental group Bellona.
Although the decision by the St. Petersburg city court judge was described by Amnesty International as a significant victory for Nikitin, the case against the retired captain remains open. He is still under house arrest (M2 Communications, November 2). If convicted, Nikitin could face up to twenty years in prison.
COMMUNISTS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT POLITICAL TRENDS IN FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS.