Boris Gevorkjan Kommersant, December 28, 2001, pp. 1, 4

Vladimir Ustinov has personally participated in the trial of Chechen terrorist Salman Raduyev, held in Dagestan. Here he comments on the trial and the conviction. He also discusses the court reforms, the Kursk submarine, and the Nikolai Aksenenko case

Question: Your impression of the trial of Salman Raduyev and his accomplices?

Vladimir Ustinov: This is the first time terrorists of such notoriety have gone on trial. All other notorious terrorists should take it as a warning.

Question: You argued with the suspects constantly. What was it all about?

Vladimir Ustinov: Raduyev or Atgeriyev addressed me at virtually every meeting. All their statements boiled down to the same thing: Chechens are a special ethnic group that ought to dedicate its existence to fighting Russia. Every time, I was forced to refer to history or to the Koran.

History teaches us that integrity is what makes a state strong, not disintegration. We have a European Union now and other international alliances. Shall we split again? Why? What for? All we want is free and prosperous lives for everyone in the Russian Federation – including Chechnya.

Question: Perhaps a harsher sentence for Raduyev would have been better?

Vladimir Ustinov: I said at the trial that the Dagestani people themselves would sentence Raduyev and the rest, but the law prevents any different sentence. If we forget the law, we would become like Raduyev and others.

Question: The president signed a package of laws recently on the legal reforms. Do you think the performance of the system will be improved?

Vladimir Ustinov: I hope this legislation will have a positive effect on society. These laws are similar to European legislation, you know.

Question: Do you think the role of the prosecutor’s office will be increased?

Vladimir Ustinov: It has always played the same role – bring the guilty to account, free the innocent, and monitor implementation of the law.

Question: A few words about the Kursk investigation…

Vladimir Ustinov: I think we are close to unravelling the mystery of the torpedo explosion which detonated the ammunition. We will answer all questions in 2002.

Question: What about theories?

Vladimir Ustinov: We have three major theories. Let us wait a while longer. Unless something unexpected happens, I’ll make another trip to the Kursk before 2002 and sum everything up.

Question: Why the extension of the investigation into the activities of Nikolai Aksenenko?

Vladimir Ustinov: We know of some new instances that have to be studied. There is one other reason. Aksenenko is ill, and his state of health prevents us from performing certain functions within the framework of the investigation.

Question: Can the prosecutor’s office have any effect on the decision about whether he is going to remain as railroads minister?

Vladimir Ustinov: We want the truth only. In my view, Aksenenko should not do anything to impede the investigation. And I will do everything I can to take the investigation to its logical conclusion.