Russia, January 23, 2003—Grigory Pasko, a journalist imprisoned in December 2001, was freed today, following a parole hearing. He was serving a two year and four month sentence for his reports on Russian navy dumping of nuclear waste. International PEN is delighted by this news, having campaigned on his behalf since his first arrest in 1997.

Pasko’s release follows a decision made by a civilian court in Ussuriysk, near Pasko’s home town of Vladivostok, that over-ruled previous decisions made by military courts. At a press conference today, Pasko told journalists that he would continue to fight for complete rehabilitation and that he would press on with his case that has already been presented to the European Court on Human Rights. Ussuriysk prison authorities had opposed parole for Pasko, citing his refusal to participate in prison activities, such as talent shows and writing for the prison newspaper, and that he had complained about his living conditions in letters to his wife. The prosecution has indicated that it may appeal the court decision.

International PEN has been campaigning for Pasko’s release since his first arrest in 1997, alongside other human rights and ecology groups. He told the environmental group, Bellona, also active in his case that he had received over 500 letters of support while in prison. “I want to tell [those who sent the letters] how important it was to have that support and know people were thinking about me. This is a common victory for us all”, he said. He added that he first wanted to be reunited with his wife and children, and then planned to fly to Moscow.

Recommended Actions
PEN members may send further appeals welcoming today’s news and urging that Grigory Pasko be no longer subject to restrictions and harassment.

Appeals to:
His Excellency Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
The Kremlin
Fax: 011 7 095 206 5173/206 6277

Personal messages of congratulation may also be sent directly to Grigory Pasko’s email [email protected]

Or by mail to: Grigory Pasko, Ivanovskaya st 2-24, 690005 Vladivostok, Russia.

Wherever possible, please write your letters in Russian.


Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660, ext. 105