The Newsletter of
A Center for Coordination
Moscow, Russia -- Issue 2(36),
SEU Times is a newsletter devoted to environmental news, events, NGO work
within former Soviet Union territory. Currently it is mailed out on special
MORE NEWS IN ENGLISH FROM SEU-TERRITORY are available on Ecoport - green
news project English version at http://www.seu.ru/news_en/npa.php
IN THIS ISSUE:
GRIGORY PASKO FREE AT LAST
GRIGORY PASKO FREE AT LAST
Grigory Pasko, journalist and SEU member, after more than five years of investigation, courts and
prison is finally free.
We want to thank all who, in solidarity, kept sending letters and faxes to Russian authorities
demanding to free Grigory.
These two articles from Bellona Web will give you more details of the event.
Articles from Bellona Web
Grigory Pasko Free At Last
Military journalist and environmental whistleblower Grigory Pasko - who has for five years fought to
clear his name of espionage charges - was finally set free today at a parole hearing in Ussuriysk,
Far Eastern Russia. His freedom brings to a close a campaign of harassment by the Federal Security
Service that saw him branded as a traitor for his reporting on the Russian Pacific Fleet and its
irresponsible handling of its nuclear waste.
Charles Digges, 2003-01-23 12:19
It also signals a larger victory over Moscow's ongoing cloak and dagger spy-hunt against
environmental activists and whistleblowers, as well as dealing a blow to the ever-tightening grip of
Vladimir Putin's Kremlin on the free press.
"We defeated them all," said Pasko's Lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, in a telephone interview after the
four-hour hearing in Ussuriysk. Pavlov is the director of the Bellona ecological and human rights
centre in St Petersburg.
"They were all working against us - the prison administration, the prosecution, special services -
but we won," he said elatedly.
The victory is also a personal vindication for Pasko, who has maintained his innocence through two
military trials, and who even rejected offers of pardon offered to him by Federation Council Speaker
Sergei Mironov on the basis that an innocent man cannot be amnestied. The four-year sentence in a
hard labour prison camp that was handed down by a military court in December 2001 brought him the
support of international environmental and human rights groups and he was named the third Russian
prisoner of conscience - after Andrei Sakharov and Bellona's Alexander Nikitin - by Amnesty
Speaking by telephone to Bellona Web after leaving the prison colony, Pasko was delighted simply to
be going home.
"My plans for tonight are to see my children, who I haven't seen for such a long time," he said,
sounding relaxed and confident. Later in the week, he said, he will fly to Moscow and greet his
wife, Galina Morozova, who will be flying in from Germany.
He also said that he had received over 500 letters from supporters while in prison.
"I want to tell them how important it was to have that support and know people were thinking about
me. This is a common victory for us all," he said.
Pavlov ascribed today's victory to the fact that the parole hearing was held in the Ussuriysk city
court - a civilian court "which was able to see the truth," said Pavlov, as opposed to the military
courts which have twice convicted Pasko, and subsequently dismissed his appeals.
"It's the first time a court - which was a civil court - has agreed with all the arguments of the
defence. Before this, the case had only been looked at by military courts," said Pavlov.
Indeed, today's parole hearing looked like it would shape up as another FSB puppet show orchestrated
with pressure from the security services and the military - both of which have been concerned with
saving face and keeping the lid on the navy's nuclear dangers screwed tightly shut.
In recent days, Yury Kalinin, who presides over Russia's corrections department - known by the
Russian acronym GUIN - said publicly that he didn't expect Pasko to be released. In the days leading
up to the trial, the prison administration seemed to be deliberately dragging its feet in submitting
necessary documentation to the court that heard Pasko's parole case.
Then, yesterday, the prison sent a statement to the court with a recommendation against Pasko's
release. In it, they cited Pasko's unwillingness to participate in amateur group talent shows with
other inmates, his refusal to write for Road to Freedom, the GUIN newspaper, and unflattering
comments he made about the prison administration in a recent letter to his wife, as reasons to deny
In court, said Pavlov, the prosecutor argued against freeing Pasko because he would not confess his
What Pasko did say at the hearing, according to Pavlov, was simply that the time had come to release
him, and that the charges against him were unfounded and illegal.
The foundation of Pasko's conviction was a set of notes he made while attending a meeting of naval
brass while working as a reporter for the Pacific Fleet newspaper, Boyevaya Vakhta. In December
2001, the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok acquitted Pasko of charges that he had passed the
notes - which allegedly concerned "secret naval manoeuvres" - to the Japanese media, but convicted
him for allegedly intending to pass the notes on.
In 1999, the same court had acquitted Pasko of treason, but convicted him of abuse of his official
authority for his supposedly negligent contacts with the Japanese media, which included passing
Japanese television a videotape made in 1993 that showed Pacific Fleet ships illegally dumping
nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan. Pasko was immediately amnestied, but he appealed the conviction
to the Supreme Court.
The unexpected result of that appeal was new trial and a conviction in December 2001 on the same
charges of treason that Pasko had earlier been acquitted for. His attorneys, Bellona and rights
groups throughout the world maintained that these charges were fabricated by the FSB and relied
heavily on two now-defunct secret Defence Ministry decrees - Nos. 010 and 055.
For now, Pasko is set on extracting total exoneration. Pavlov said that in coming days he will
submit a supervisory appeal to the chairman of the Russian Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev. On
Dec. 24, Nikolai Petukhov, the chairman of the Supreme Court's Military Collegium, refused to take
the appeal. If Lebedev agrees to take the appeal, it could lead to a reversal of the verdict that
imprisoned Pasko, and legally clear his name.
Pasko also has an appeal before the European Union Court of Human Rights to address prosecutors
violations of the Human Rights convention. Among those rights spelled out by the convention that
were violated in the Pasko case are the right to determination of criminal charges within a
reasonable time; the right to a fair trial; defences against being tried retroactively and under too
extensive an interpretation of existing legislation; and the right to freedom of expression.
Alexander Nikitin - who himself spent five years battling similar charges of treason for blowing the
whistle on the Northern Fleet's handling of its nuclear waste - was elated at the news of Pasko's
"This is the second time in my life that I have experienced such a feeling. The first time is when
all of this happened with me and the second is when I called Vladivostok and found out that Pasko
had been freed," Nikitin said in a telephone interview from Moscow.
"It's a feeling that's hard to explain - it's a relief that comes after so much pressure and then,
all at once, the pressure is over - it's just wonderful, everything that's happened is wonderful."
Grigory Pasko is editor-in-chief of Bellona 's Russian language magazine Ecology and Rights. He will
now move to European Russia and continue his work on this project in a full-time capacity.
The Ussuriysk Municipal Court decided today to release journalist Grigory Pasko on parole. Thus, the
saga of the environmental whistleblower has taken a new and sensational turn.
Jon Gauslaa, 2003-01-23 09:51
The Court decision was announced this morning around 05.00 GMT. Currently Pasko and his defence team
are taking care of various paper work at the labour camp in Ussyryisk where Pasko was sent to serve
his four year conviction.
Pasko will, however, walk out of the camp as a free man very shortly.
A great day for justice
Pasko's release came unexpectedly. Less than a month ago, Yury Kalinin, head of Russia's State
Corrections Department (GUIN), told Alexei Siminov of the Glasnost Foundation that Pasko's prospects
for an early release were zero, since he had not admitted any guilt.
Grigory Pasko who worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper of the Russian Pacific Fleet
was arrested on November 20, 1997 and charged with treason through espionage. He was acquitted of
these charges by the Pacific Fleet Court in Vladivostok on July 20, 1999, but sentenced to a
three-year imprisonment for 'abuse of his official position' although he was not charged with that
crime, and released on a general amnesty.
After both sides had appealed, the Supreme Court cancelled the verdict in November 2000 and sent the
case back for a new trial at the Pacific Fleet Court. The re-trial started on July 11, 2001 and
ended on December 25, with Pasko being convicted to four years. The verdict was again appealed by
both sides. On June 25, 2002 the Military Supreme Court confirmed Pasko's four-year sentence. Pasko
was transferred to a labour camp in the Russian Far East on September 10, 2002. His release was
originally scheduled for April 25, 2004.
Back to SEU Times home page
This issue was written and complied by
Sviatoslav Zabelin - the SEU Council Co-Chair, email@example.com
Olga Berlova, Victoria Kolesnikova firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Issues of The SEU Times may be found at www.seu.ru/seu-news/eng
"The Online Gadfly" at www.igc.org/gadfly