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Russia: Putin Ally Supports Jailed Journalist

Moscow, 26 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The newly elected leader of Russia's upper house of parliament today criticized the jailing of Russian military journalist Grigorii Pasko. Sergei Mironov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he now understands how a man feels who is condemned for something he is not guilty of.

Pasko was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday on charges of preparing to divulge naval secrets to Japanese media, which allegedly could have threatened the Russian Pacific Fleet. Pasko and his supporters deny the charges, and say the trials were punishment for his reports on environmental abuses by the navy.

Lawyer Ivan Pavlov said the defense has filed an appeal.

Pasko was acquitted of espionage in an earlier trial in 1999, but found guilty on lesser charges. He was freed immediately under a general amnesty. Pasko appealed the verdict, but so did the prosecutors, insisting he was a spy.