Russian's president Boris Yeltsin resently undersigned a new law on state secrets, which establishes all information on military bases, marine yards, labour conditions and radioactive waste as being secret. The law may have dramatic consequences towards the attempts at bringing the nuclear chaos of the Russian north under control.
The new additional law on state secrets was approved by the Duma on September 19, and undersigned by Boris Yeltsin on October 6. It came to force upon publication on October 9. The law describes what kinds of information that is to be regarded as state secrets from now on. Investigations into possible breaches of the new law will be delegated to the security police FSB.
--The law seems to have been issued as a preparation for the trial against me, says Bellona co-worker Aleksandr Nikitin. After reading the new law-text today, he says that from now on anything pertaining to submarines and radwaste may be regarded as state secrets.
The new law's article 5 states that all information pertaining to localisation of military equipment, construction, protection and military-political circumstances is secret. In addition, the law stresses that information on military nuclear objects and installations is secret.
The new law may have dramatic consequences for international co-operation on military nuclear waste, long awaited by many. Both Norwegian and US authorities are involved with projects which cover military bases on the Kola Peninsula. If the law is to be complied with, no international participants will get access to information concerning the Northern Fleet's radwaste or deccomissioning of retired subs.
As opposed to the former law on state secrets, the new text forcibly states that all information on military installations is secret. The old text made provisions for case-by-case evaluations.
Article 26 of the new law even states that expert commissions shall evaluate possible breaches of the law. This is the very kind of commission, put together by the Russian general staff, which on several occasions have evaluated the Bellona report on the Northen Fleet and found it to contain state secrets. The spy charges against Nikitin are based on the conclusions of these expert comitteess. In the charges, references are made to secret decrees, as 'proof' of criminal activity. As far as the new law on state secrets provides for the enforcement of secret decrees, it violates the Russian Constitution and internationally acknowlegded principles of justice.