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Russia: Pro-Pasko Rally Urges Curb On Secret Services

Moscow, 3 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Local businessmen, journalists, politicians, and human rights campaigners rallied today in the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok in support of military journalist Grigorii Pasko, who was convicted of espionage in late December. Pasko was found guilty of "high treason in the form of espionage" by the military court of the Pacific Fleet in that city on 25 December for exposing radioactive dumping activities by the Russian military.

Following the meeting, the campaigners sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin asking him to rein in the secret services, which they consider responsible for Pasko's conviction. Another letter in support of Pasko was sent to Russia's prosecutor-general, Vladimir Ustinov.

Pasko was arrested in 1997 after he exposed, to Japanese journalists, the dumping of radioactive waste by the Russian navy in the Pacific Ocean. After two trials, he was found guilty of collecting information about secret Pacific Fleet exercises by a military court and sentenced to four years in prison for espionage and high treason.

Today's rally is the most recent in a series of pleas and protests in support of the journalist, both in Russia and abroad.

The support actions are expected to culminate in a 10 January picketing of the buildings of the Federal Security Service (FSB) department for the Pacific Fleet (PF), the PF military prosecutor's office, and the PF military court.