Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Second Treason Trial for Journalist
December 19, 2001

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) - In his final address to the court hearing the second treason trial against him, Russian military journalist Grigory Pasko said he was critical of his country but had not betrayed it.

Pasko is charged with high treason in the form of espionage for divulging state secrets on the combat-readiness of Russia's Pacific Fleet to Japanese media. He was acquitted of the treason charges in 1999, but found guilty on lesser charges of abuse of office. Seeking a full acquittal, Pasko appealed the verdict, as did prosecutors. The Supreme Court in Moscow sent the case back for trial by a different judge.

The court has recessed until Dec. 25 when it is expected to hand down a verdict.

Pasko and his supporters maintain the charges are retribution for his reports of alleged environmental abuses by the navy, which included dumping radioactive waste into the sea.

``I preferred to criticize my motherland, but not deceive it'' by failing to report on the abuses, he said, according to a copy of the speech he delivered Tuesday in the closed-door trial. ``This criminal case was born of a dislike for the truth.''

Pasko said that the Federal Security Service, or FSB, which investigated his case, was suspicious of his contacts with Japanese journalists - as if the agency were stuck in the era of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

``The FSB, as in 1937, regarded my contacts with foreigners as espionage,'' he said, referring to the peak year of Soviet purges and spy mania.

The prosecution last week demanded nine years in a maximum-security prison for Pasko, maintaining that his alleged treason was aggravated by the fact that Russia still has not signed a peace treaty with Japan after World War II, a defense lawyer said.

Still, the sentence is three years lower than the minimal punishment for high treason. According to the lawyer, Anatoly Pyshkin, the prosecutor said a shorter sentence would be appropriate because Pasko had not done any harm to national security and has two minor children.

Prosecutor Alexander Kondakov also dropped five charges from the initial 10-count indictment, Pyshkin said.

Back to the Top    Next Article