#10 - JRL 7032
January 24, 2003
GRIGORII PASKO: MY FREEDOM IS NOT GUARANTEED
Pasko won't abandon his calling, even though he may find himself
Author: Ivan Sas, Igor Verba
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
MILITARY JOURNALIST GRIGORI PASKO, SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS
IMPRISONMENT FOR ESPIONAGE, WAS RELEASED FROM PRISON LAST THURSDAY,
AFTER TWO YEARS AND EIGHT MONTHS BEHIND BARS. IN THIS INTERVIEW, HE
LOOKS BACK ON HIS ACTIVITIES AND CONVICTIONS, AND SAYS HE STILL
INTENDS TO CLEAR HIS NAME.
An interview with journalist Grigori Pasko
Military journalist Grigori Pasko, sentenced to four years
imprisonment for espionage, was released from Prison Colony No. 41
near the town of Ussuriisk at 5:05 p.m. local time last Thursday,
after two years and eight months behind bars.
Here is a telephone interview with the released journalist.
Question: Do you know that the prosecutor's office intends to
file a protest and challenge the decision to set you free?
Grigori Pasko: I know it, all right.
Question: And what will you do?
Grigori Pasko: What can I do? I will go back to jail again. My
freedom is not guaranteed by anyone or anything.
Question: What are your plans for the near future?
Grigori Pasko: I cannot make any plans, you understand, because
the future is so unclear. I can only say that I am not going to
abandon journalism. no matter what.
Question: Do you wish you had not turned down the offer of a
pardon in March 2002?
Grigori Pasko: No. I still mean to have my innocence established.
Complaints concerning the unlawful nature of my conviction are still
before the presidium of the Supreme Court and in Strasbourg.
Officials of the Penitentiary System Main Directorate of the
Justice Ministry confirm that the prosecutor's office is considering
the option of challenging the Ussuriisk municipal court and its
decision to release Pasko. They make it clear that the Main
Directorate would not mind seeing the journalist back in jail. They
claim that early release is defined by the Criminal Code as a measure
aimed at encouraging prisoners who show that they have reformed, have
displayed good behavior, and admit their guilt. Pasko has not
repented. Officials even blame him for failing to write articles for
the prison newsletter. It may be added here that the position of the
Main Directorate conflicts with that of Justice Minister Yuri Chaika,
who was quoted as saying that Pasko does deserve early release.
Human rights activists and non-government organizations are
defending the journalist. Ella Pamfilova of the presidential
commission for human rights, Lyudmila Alekseeva of the Moscow Helsinki
Group, and Igor Yakovenko of the Union of Russian Journalists applaud
the decision of the court, saying it is fair, and that Pasko's
vindication would be the next logical step.