Former Military Journalist Works from Jail

Journalist Grigory Pasko’s lawyer is certain that his client is innocent

Captain Grigory Pasko, a journalist from the Pacific Navy newspaper Battle Watch, was arrested by Federal Security Bureau agents (FSB) on November 20th, 1997. The journalist was charged with betraying his fatherland on account of his articles. The articles were devoted to the issue of radiation safety in submarine docks.

Both Russian and foreign media outlets have paid a lot of attention to the trial on the journalist. What is happening to Grigory Pasko now? Ivan Pavlov, the journalist’s lawyer, managed to visit the prison where Pasko is serving his sentence. The colleagues of the disgraced journalist from Ecology and Right magazine handed over an article to PRAVDA.Ru a couple of days ago. It is also worth mentioning that Grigory Pasko is the editor of the mentioned magazine.

Grigory Pasko’s lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, wrote:

“Pasko’s trial became a crucial case in my career as a lawyer. It actually divided my life into two: before and after. However, this is a subject of a separate article. I do not feel sorry for anything today. I would refuse any suggestion to go back in the time, when I was not implicated in the case. I would do something in another way, though, if it was possible. Yet, it does not have anything in common with the legal defense strategy.

“I would like to apologize to my colleagues who think that a lawyer is not supposed to write anything but appeals. I am still certain that our team has been doing its best. This is not only my opinion; this is what other respectable lawyers think as well. Traditional and online media outlets have paid a lot of attention to our work. Everyone had an opportunity to estimate the power of our arguments, which proved the innocence of our defendant.

“I am sure that Grigory Pasko is not guilty. I am not saying this as a lawyer, because lawyers basically do not say anything else about their defendants. I am saying this, because I know every little detail of the case. Otherwise, I would not make any comments to the press. Believe me, a lawyer always knows a lot more than the prosecutor or a judge does. This allowed me to comment on the case and to insist on its only outcome: a verdict of “not guilty.” I perceived Grigory Pasko’s conviction as a personal insult. So, if the court determines someone’s guilt, it will not be Pasko's, but our guilt, because we failed to defend an innocent person. However, as they say, if you pick up weapons, then fight. There is a chance that the case will be reconsidered by the presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia. Our basic goal is to withdraw the case from the military court. The court martial has brought down a verdict for itself in the matter of Grigory Pasko. However, it is all about the issues of strategy and tactics; Grigory Pasko is still in the colony. His sentence is ridiculous, but it is a “sentence of guilty.” The sentence is ridiculous because the court brought down a suspiciously soft sentence for the most horrid state crime.

“We have to act in this situation now. Last year, I worked in the city of Vladivostok for six months. This year, I have been to the city of Ussuriysk (the Far East of Russia) and worked there as well. This is the place where Grigory Pasko is serving his sentence. Ussuriysk is a typical, small, provincial town. There has recently been a huge military enterprise there, which built tanks. The enterprise provided jobs for the majority of the town’s residents. People say that there are only four people working at that enterprise now. They allegedly repair only two tanks. There is also a hotel in Ussuriysk of the same name. A presidential suit with cockroaches costs 600 rubles ($20) there. The buildings of the colony look like that hotel as well, although they were erected a hundred years earlier.

“The colony is situated on the outskirts of Ussuriysk. One has to travel there either by bus or by taxi. A way back to the town might become a very unpleasant trip because of the absence of any means of communication, or on account of really bad weather. I was aware of the weather problems in that area of the country, so I took warm, water-proof clothes with me of bright green colors. I have to say that my outfit was very conspicuous against the background of the local fashion style. People of Ussuriysk prefer black and gray.

“I remembered my high school lectures, when a professor was explaining the structure of a correctional colony. It did not even occur to me, when a student, that I would have to “practice” that lecture in the future. For those who are not familiar with correctional institutions, I would like to give an explanation. Each colony has a so-called gun-perforating, viewable perimeter. This is also called a light control zone. The zone is illuminated with searchlights very well. It is always visible, especially when you approach such an institution at nighttime.

“There are watch towers located on the perimeter of a colony, where armed soldiers stand on guard. Almost every colony is divided into two zones equal in size. The first zone is a residential one. There are barracks there, an isolation ward, an administrative building, and back rooms. The second zone is an industrial zone. This zone contains everything that is connected with the prisoners’ “reeducation.”

“Russian prisoners are reeducated with labor. The colony where Grigory Pasko is staying is referred to the home wood-working industry. In other words, the men there manufacture furniture, doors, and other wooden things. The chief of the colony was on vacation, so I had a meeting with his deputy, justice lieutenant colonel Sergey Artyukov. The time and the date of my meeting with that man was appointed long before my arrival to the colony. I have to say that the organization of the meeting was very fine. After Artyukov got acquainted with me, he called an officer, and then I was taken to a separate room to meet Grigory Pasko there. After I talked to the administration of the colony, I realized that they would do everything or nothing to Pasko, depending on adequate instructions.

“To be honest, I was naive to think that the convicted journalist would be used by the colony according to his talents. I thought that he would work in a library or in any other cultural field. However, Pasko works in a group of prisoners that make doors. The group is always ahead of schedule. An organization even suggested buying Pasko’s door items as something unique and rare. Grigory does not complain. He does not want to do anything else. The colony’s administration is aware of the fact that Pasko’s health worsened a lot in a detention center. That is why, they do not hurry to think of any other job for Pasko. Grigory Pasko is a human being who has unique, special knowledge. But the authorities do not want to provide him a job that corresponds to his education, skills, and knowledge. The reason why is very simple. They just want to destroy all vestige of Pasko’s professional activity in him.

“The authorities want to kill the journalist in Grigory Pasko. However, he manages to write, in order to keep his professional shape, so to speak. He edits articles for the magazine Ecology and Right and writes appeals and other legal documents for other convicted people. There are certain results of his work. Pasko helped a prisoner to have his time in jail cut by two years. You can imagine, what kind of authority he obtained in the colony after that. As a matter of fact, the years of trial forced Grigory Pasko to develop legal skills.

“The second unit of the correctional institution consists of 123 prisoners. There are only two non-smokers among them. Grigory is one of them. His daily schedule is very simple. He wakes up at 6:30 a.m., does his morning exercises, and then attempts to have some hygienic procedures. It should be mentioned here that all those things happen simultaneously with 123 other adult men. Their work starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. There are six working days in a week. The prisoners march both to and from work together. The food is adequate to the service level. All these “pleasures” are supposed to create another human being out of the prisoner and prevent him from committing crimes in the future.

“It goes without saying that this system does not include the possibility of legal mistakes. You can imagine what an innocent person might become if he finds himself in the middle of the correctional mechanism. Time stands still for a man in a colony. Grigory is doing fine, in spite of the fact that his nerves are constantly tense. During my conversation with Grigory, I told him that the Supreme Court of Russia obtained his file for further investigation. We respect the law and we have to deal with the sentence that was brought down on Pasko until it is cancelled. The truth will always remain the truth. That is why we need to believe that our legal fight is only a matter of time, even if this time is equal to a lifetime.”

Ivan Pavlov Especially for PRAVDA.Ru Ussuriysk St.Petersburg

Article prepared by Vitaly Bratkov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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