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Russia: Supreme Courts Acquits Nikitin

Moscow, 13 September 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia's top appeals court today completely exonerated anti-nuclear activist Aleksandr Nikitin of treason charges. The ruling ended a final appeal by prosecutors who were contesting Nikitin's former acquittal. It ended a four-and-a-half year legal battle for the former Russian naval captain, who was accused of high treason after he wrote a report for a Norway-based environmental group about unsafe storage of nuclear waste by the Russian navy. Nikitin was arrested in 1996 and spent more than 11 months in prison. He was accused of high treason after he wrote the report for an environmental group.

The anti-nuclear activist was acquitted last December. But the prosecutor general's office appealed for the second time to Russia's Supreme Court to reopen the case. Another appeal was turned down this spring.

Prosecutors said the acquittal should have been overturned and a new, fair investigation and trial be held because a court ruled investigators committed violations during the probe.

Nikitin says the prosecutors' move against him reflects the same instinct to keep news of disasters under wraps as the government's handling of the "Kursk" submarine tragedy.