Sun reporter in Moscow questioned for four hours

April 09, 1993

Will Englund, a Moscow correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, was questioned for four hours yesterday by an investigator of the Russian Security Ministry about an article he wrote last year describing chemical weapons development in the former Soviet

Union.

He was interrogated by Capt. Viktor A. Shkarin, a former officer of the KGB, which became the Security Ministry after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party.

The interrogation took place at Lefortovo Prison. Captain Shkarin is heading the investigation of a Russian chemical scientist, Vil .. Mirzayanov, who was an identified source in Mr. Englund's article. Dr. Mirzayanov has been charged with revealing state secrets.

Dr. Mirzayanov had told The Sun that Russian scientists had secretly developed a nerve gas 10 times more deadly than VX, a similar U.S. chemical agent, at a time when the Soviet government was publicly supporting treaties that would eliminate chemical weapons.

Mr. Englund was accompanied to yesterday's interrogation by Nancy Richman, his lawyer, David Whiddon, a U.S. consular official, and Andrei Mironov, a Russian interpreter employed by The Baltimore Sun.

Captain Shkarin allowed only the interpreter in the room where the interrogation was conducted, although Mr. Englund was permitted to consult with Ms. Richman outside the room.

Mr. Englund said all the questions regarded his Sept. 16, 1992 article, which was based on an interview with Dr. Mirzayanov and another scientist, Dr. Lev Fyodorov.

He said he refused to give any information beyond what had been in the article about the chemical weapons development program, except that when asked if Dr. Mirzayanov had asked to be paid, he told the investigator he had not.

"I made a general statement protesting the summons and saying I had nothing to add to the Sept. 16 story," Mr. Englund said.

He was released after the four-hour interview and there was no indication he would be summoned again.

"Shkarin was by turns bullying, polite, joking, bored, angry," Mr. Englund said. "At one point he accused me of intending to lie to him."

After the interview, Mr. Englund was asked to sign a "protocol" describing the questions and answers. It was in Russian and Mr. Englund refused to sign.

There was some dispute about this, with Captain Shkarin threatening to summon Mr. Englund back to Lefortovo. But ultimately, Mr. Mironov, the interpreter, signed the document.

"In some ways the whole experience was incredibly mundane," Mr. Englund added. "It all seemed so familiarly Soviet."

Mr. Englund described the interrogation room as "a typical Soviet office with a desk, straight-backed chairs, a cumbersome computer, green walls and mango drapes.

"On the wall was a hammer-and-sickle seal. Shkarin joked that he hadn't bothered to take it down because he might just have to put it back up again."

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