Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 238

Two Russian military whistle-blowers–each of whom has been accused of espionage for trying to publicize the state of the Russian navy’s nuclear wastes–were back in the news this week. Retired naval officer Aleksandr Nikitin, the better known of the two, has reportedly sued Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov for slander. Nikitin’s suit is a response to remarks made by Adamov on November 5, when the Russian minister told reporters that Nikitin had disclosed state secrets and thus inflicted damage on the country (Russian agencies, November 5).

Nikitin was arrested nearly three years ago on treason charges over work he had done for the Norwegian environmental group Bellona. The organization published a report describing nuclear pollution caused by Russia’s Northern Fleet. Nikitin won a reprieve early last month when a St. Petersburg judge ruled that prosecutors had failed to gather adequate evidence against him. But the case against the retired Russian captain remains open, and Nikitin is still under house arrest (see the Monitor, November 3). Nikitin’s case has attracted the attention of human rights advocates in Russia and abroad.

In the Russian Far East, meanwhile, a jailed Russian military reporter has officially registered as a candidate for election to Vladivostok’s municipal legislature. The vote is scheduled for January 17–only a few days removed from the scheduled start of Navy Commander Grigory Pasko’s trial. Pasko was arrested in November of 1997 on his return from Japan, on the basis of reports he filed with the Japanese media, and remains in jail on charges of treason (see the Monitor, October 21). He is accused of having divulged classified information on the combat readiness of the Pacific Fleet. Pasko maintains that documents seized from him by Russian security forces in fact detailed environmental problems at several of Russia’s Far Eastern naval bases. He said on December 22 that his run for office is intended to publicize his case and, in the event of victory, to use his parliamentary immunity to thwart the case against him (AP, Itar-Tass, December 22).