Aleksandr Nikitin, a former Russian navy captain whose case has been embraced by human rights activists in Russia and elsewhere, says he is to face additional charges of espionage. Nikitin was arrested originally in February of 1996 for work he did on a 1995 study produced by the Norwegian environmental group Bellona. (See Monitor, September 30, 1997) The study described the dangers to the environment posed by stored nuclear waste materials of Russia’s Northern Fleet. Nikitin was arrested by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on allegations that he had used classified information in his contribution to the report. Nikitin and his lawyer have argued that the information supplied by Nikitin came from open sources. This will be the seventh time that Nikitin has faced charges related to the Bellona report. The former captain has been offered–but has refused–asylum in Canada.
During the news conference at which he announced that the new charges are to be leveled against him, Nikitin also said that Russian security agents–presumably from the FSB–have stepped up their efforts to intimidate both him and his family. He also made clear that he was continuing his work for Bellona. Nikitin said that he would hold another press conference on May 15 at which he would make public important new materials related to his case. (NTV, Russian agencies, May 5)
U.S.-LATVIAN MILITARY CONSULTATIONS AIM TO UPGRADE LATVIA’S DEFENSE.