U.S. Department of State
Statement By Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Russia: Nikitin Case
The United States welcomes today's ruling of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to reject an appeal by the Russian General Procurator to reopen espionage charges against Aleksandr Nikitin.
Mr. Nikitin is a renowned environmental and human rights activist who has done valuable research exposing the dangers posed to the environment by the Russian Navy's handling of nuclear materials. Mr. Nikitin's research highlighted the environmental and health risks posed by the Northern fleet's dumping of nuclear materials and other debris along the Kola Peninsula. The court's ruling will help strengthen the rule of law, due process, and freedom of expression in Russia. It also affirms the role of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in creating a civil society.
This case has raised considerable questions about manipulation of the Russian legal system to harass government critics. Over the last four years, prosecutors have filed eight different sets of charges and tried Nikitin twice without convicting him.
The United States has followed this case closely over the past four years. The President, the Vice President and the Secretary have repeatedly discussed this case in their bilateral meetings with Russian officials, and Mr. Nikitin has twice met with Department and White House officials during visits to Washington, together with his colleagues at the Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian NGO.
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