The Absurd and its Theater Grigory Pasko, journalist A couple of months ago, when I was filling in my visa application at the Australian embassy, I honestly wrote that I had had a criminal conviction. The embassy employees asked me to provide an official criminal record. Official criminal records are issued by the Main Informational-Analytical Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation – one month after you apply for one. The Australian embassy was nice enough to issue me a visa without this document, allowing me to make my September trip to Australia, but they did ask me to get the document to them after my return, just so they would have a complete record on file. I have finally received my official criminal record. And what I read in it surprised me greatly.
…In 1997, I was arrested and charged with espionage in favor of Japanese journalists. Then, in 1999, a guilty verdict was decreed by a court, with which I did not agree. They released me from prison, but arranged for a new trial. In 2001, I was once again arrested, under the same charges, and once again I was imprisoned: first in a jail, and then in a strict-regime correctional colony. In 2002, the sentence entered into legal force. In 2003, I was given early conditional release from the colony on parole. At that time, I was issued a parole certificate. And then, as required, I turned this document in to the rayon branch of internal affairs at my place of residence. Another few significant facts: By sentence of the court I was stripped of my military rank as Captain Second Grade. When I came to register with the rayon military commissariat [All Russian adult males are required to be registered with their local military commissariat—Trans.], I was told that they didn’t know anything about me being stripped of military rank. The fact is that a military unit, upon receiving a copy of a verdict in relation to a military serviceman, is required to initiate the stripping of military rank in reverse order: by petitioning for this before the command that had assigned the rank in the first place. In my case, this was the minister of defense. And so, it turned out that there was no corresponding order from the minister of defense on stripping me of the military rank «captain 2 grade». And it doesn’t exist to this day. (Although this did not keep employees of the FSB from unofficially and secretly ordering the workers of the military commissariat of Moscow to stop paying out my pension – but that’s another story.) What’s important here is that formally and legally I have not been stripped of military rank. And now let’s fast-forward to the official criminal record from the Main Informational-Analytical Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. Here’s what it says, word for word:
“The Main Informational-Analytical Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Main Administration of Internal Affairs of Moscow, the Main Administration of Internal Affairs of Moscow Oblast do not have at their disposal information on prior convictions of Grigory Mikhailovich Pasko on the territory of the Russian Federation. There is no additional information.” Official seal. Signature of the chief.
And so I sit here and think. I have already talked and written many a time about the fact that employees of the FSB, the procuracy and the court had committed a crime in relation to me – the conviction of a person they knew was innocent. Personally speaking, my application that has been under examination in the Strasbourg court for who knows how many years already is all about that. But I never expected that the Main Informational-Analytical Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation would share my point of view about what someone someplace had once called a trial. There was no trial – there was a circus, there was a mockery of justice, of the lawyers, and of me, my family, and everybody throughout the whole world who defended me. I suppose we ought to think that there are some good lawyers working at the Main Informational-Analytical Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, people who have a precise knowledge and understanding of the essence of those kangaroo courts that took place in the period from 1997 to 2002 in relation to me. There were no fair trials! And since there weren’t any, then why should there be any data about convictions? It seems logical. Which makes everything all the more absurd! Formally, I have not been stripped of my rank, but they don’t pay me my pension. I know for a fact that I really did sit in jail and in camp – twice – but officially there are no data about my having been convicted! Madness! – you will say. Madness! – I will agree. Russian reality! – an outside observer will say.