Undercover Agent Serves As Witness in Trial of 12
Published: May 30, 2012 (Issue # 1710)
The prosecution presented its most intriguing witness yet during the trial of the 12 Other Russia activists Tuesday. An undercover agent, who reported to counter-extremism Center E on the activists’ meetings and protests, took the stand at the trial’s latest session.
Identified in court as Mikhail Sazonov, the witness testified from another room, with his answers heard in the courtroom. His voice was electronically distorted to “ensure his safety” in compliance with a motion made by Prosecutor Nadezhda Filimonova during Friday’s hearing.
Vyborgsky District Court Judge Sergei Yakovlev rejected a motion made by defendant Andrei Dmitriyev, chair of The Other Russia’s local branch, to verify whether or not the witness was the real Sazonov and whether he was alone in the room— without a Center E officer with him to prompt him.
The prosecution hopes to prove that the activities of the defendants — meetings, rallies or other forms of protest — were in reality the activities of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP). Most of the defendants were members of the party before it was banned for being extremist in 2007.
Sazonov claimed that he filled in a membership form on the Nazbol.ru website in March 2009 because “he was interested in knowing what the opposition was like.” After two meetings he said he went to Center E, whose address he found using the Yandex search engine, and was invited to cooperate with Center E by Officer Dmitry Gryaznov.
On Tuesday, Sazonov said he went to Center E because he realized that the NBP organization was banned. According to him, he went to one rally — Strategy 31, a rally in defense of the constitutional right of assembly, in late 2009 (he said he didn’t remember what month it was) and saw banned NBP flags there.
However, Strategy 31 was launched in St. Petersburg on Jan. 31, 2010 by several opposition groups as a non-partisan campaign that insists it does not use party flags.
According to the indictment, Sazonov identified all of the 12 defendants in the 60 photographs shown to him during the investigation, but on Tuesday he managed to identify only four when the photographs were shown to him in his separate room.
The defense believe Sazonov — who introduced himself to the activists as “Ruben,” according to Dmitriyev — was an undercover police operative from the very start, planted by Center E to report on the activists. He also recommended an apartment that had been equipped with surveillance cameras and microphones to the group for their meetings.
Pages: