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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

KGB Agent Seeks Justice After Prison

Nearly 20 years after he was sentenced to eight years in prison for tipping off Soviet dissidents about secret-police plans to search or arrest them, former KGB captain Viktor Orekhov says he still can't find justice.

He said at a press conference Tuesday that the latest effort to clear his name for exposing what are now regarded as illegal KGB activities was rejected by the Military Board of the Russian Supreme Court, which maintains that he was tried and sentenced correctly for disclosing state secrets.

Orekhov is probably the only known KGB official who attempted to change the Soviet system of oppression from the inside. He has drawn widespread attention from dissidents and human rights activists.

But the post-Soviet state's refusal to rehabilitate him leaves Orekhov with an official prison record that prevents him from getting many jobs.

"I am a trained lawyer and would love to work in this field, but I can't until I am fully rehabilitated," Orekhov said.

Sergei Kovalyov, Russia's leading human-rights activist, said Tuesday at the press conference that Orekhov's case should be examined from a very unique point of view.

"Yes, it is very bad when the policemen act against orders or a system. But if you follow this reasoning, then the Nuremberg trial becomes questionable," said Kovalyov, referring to the conviction of Nazi war criminals after World War II despite their contention that they were obeying orders and broke no German laws.

Kovalyov also noted that KGB action against dissidents has been officially accepted as illegal. "In this respect, the case can be treated from the point of view stated in the Russian law which sounds like, 'If a crime is committed in order to prevent even bigger crime, it should not be tried,'" he said.

Kovalyov contended that judges in Russia still seem to act as if they are state officials, and consequently attempt to defend state interests.

Orekhov's confrontation with the KGB did not end after he finished serving his original eight-year prison term in 1986. In May 1995, long after the collapse of the Soviet regime, he was arrested for illegal possession of a weapon.

Observers expected that Orekhov would get off with a suspended sentence because the pistol lacked a key part and was incapable of firing. But after a 15-minute trial, he was sentenced to another three years in prison.

The sentence was reduced to one year following demonstrations outside the building of the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB.