Green activist held by Russia as 'spy'
Thursday 08 February 1996
Russia's security services have launched another attempt to crack down on a Norwegian environmental group which is investigating the dumping of highly radioactive nuclear waste, by arresting one of its experts and branding him a spy.
Agents from the Federal Security Service (FSB) have arrested a member of the Oslo-based group, Bellona, in St Petersburg and are holding him on charges of espionage, reviving fears that the security services are resorting to the tactics of the old KGB to prevent a scandal being made public.
The arrest of 44-year-old Alexander Nikitin is the latest move against Bellona by FSB agents, who last year raided the group's offices in Murmansk and St Petersburg and seized documents and computer equipment. The group specialises in investigating the dumping of radioactive waste on the Kola Peninsula, near the Norwegian border, by Russia's northern fleet.
Bellona, which also accuses the FSB of repeatedly harassing its staff, said Mr Nikitin's arrest was "a serious blow against democracy and environmental efforts in Russia". Technically, espionage carries a possible death sentence.
It appears Mr Nikitin's role in the group is a matter of particular sensitivity to the Russian authorities: he is a former captain in the Russian navy who became a supervisor of nuclear facilities in the Ministry of Defence before resigning three years ago. A spokesman for the FSB confirmed his arrest, but refused to comment further.
Bellona has become a bugbear for the Russians because of its efforts to probe the navy's heedless and highly dangerous dumping practices. In November it made international headlines by releasing pictures of dozens of spent fuel containers from an early Russian nuclear submarine, saying each was as radioactive as last year's first French nuclear test in the Pacific. They had been sitting in the open near the Norwegian border.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters describe their hopes and dreams in touching photographs
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...