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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Amnesty Plans to Campaign For Nikitin

ST. PETERSBURG -- Amnesty International announced plans Friday for a campaign to free a retired Russian naval officer who has been in jail for six months for contributing to a report on Russia's nuclear problems.


At a news conference in St. Petersburg, Amnesty spokesman Diederik Lohman declared Alexander Nikitin, who faces treason charges, a "prisoner of conscience."


Concerns about his health and morale have risen since he was incarcerated in February by the KGB's main successor, the Federal Security Service. He is being held in one of the service's jails in St. Petersburg.


Nikitin's wife, Tatyana Chernova, told the news conference that her husband was exhausted and that his sight apparently had deteriorated.


Nikitin appeared dazed and visibly fatigued at a bail hearing last week in St. Petersburg, his sixth unsuccessful attempt to go free on bond.


His wife says Nikitin is being subject to "intense psychological" pressure and being drugged by his ex-KGB jailers.


Amnesty plans to publish a report on Nikitin's case next week and submit it to Russian leaders, including President Boris Yeltsin, Lohman said, according to the Interfax news agency.


Nikitin provided information for a report by the Bellona environmental group that catalogs nuclear waste, reactors, accidents and nuclear warships at the Russian Northern Fleet's base on the Kola Peninsula bordering Norway.


The report, released two weeks ago in Norway, says 18 percent of the world's atomic reactors are in that part of Russia's arctic. Most, about 270 units, are used by the Northern Fleet, which can't afford to maintain or even secure its nuclear materials, the report said.


Nikitin was arrested for allegedly revealing state secrets, but Bellona contends all the information he provided was obtained from public sources.