Russia’s Constitutional Court yesterday declared unconstitutional actions that limit the choice of attorney by persons charged with revealing state secrets. Four persons had reportedly challenged Article 21 of the Russian law "On State Secrets," which allowed the government to limit choice of counsel in such cases to lawyers who had been officially cleared to hear state secrets. (Interfax, March 27) According to one report, such cases will henceforth be conducted behind closed doors, and the involved lawyer will be bound not to divulge information revealed during the proceedings. (Russian Public TV, "Vremya," March 27) The February 6 arrest on espionage charges of Aleksandr Nikitin, a Russian researcher working for a Norwegian environmental group, brought the law to the public’s attention. Lobbying by the Norwegian government and by protest groups there led Boris Yeltsin to announce during his just completed visit to Oslo that Nikitin would be allowed to choose his own lawyer. (See Monitor, March 27)
Russian Parliamentarians Rebuffed in Sofia.