Russian chemist sues former KGB

May 19, 1994|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,Moscow Bureau of The Sun

MOSCOW -- Vil S. Mirzayanov, the chemist who was charged with leaking state secrets, has filed a lawsuit seeking 40 million rubles in damages from the former KGB, a chemical weapons research institute and Russian prosecutors.

Though he has been trying to file suit for several weeks now, Dr. Mirzayanov said, it was finally accepted this week by a Moscow district court.

Dr. Mirzayanov was charged with revealing state secrets after he asserted in an interview with The Sun and in a Moscow newspaper article that Russia was continuing research on chemical weapons. The research went on, he said, after Russia led the rest of the world to believe that it had stopped such research.

Dr. Mirzayanov lost his job at the State Institute of Chemical Technologies as a result, and he was jailed twice before the charges against him were dropped in February.

He says he was prosecuted on false charges simply because officials wanted to harass him for making Russia look bad. Though 40 million rubles is now a little less than $22,000, he said the principle matters more to him than the money.

"The money isn't important," he said. "If you count it, it isn't that much. It's the precedent. Even 4 rubles would be fine with me -- but my wife disagreed."

Dr. Mirzayanov said his entire family suffered after the KGB -- now the Federal Counterintelligence Service -- banged at his door early one morning, then took him off to prison for questioning.

Like most Soviet citizens, Dr. Mirzayanov had lived a quiet life, doing what he was told. Now he finds he is something of a celebrity for standing up for what he thought was right.

"When I filed the suit," he said, sounding somewhat astounded, "the court clerk said, 'Wait till I tell my friends who visited here today.' "

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