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June 2000 Planet Main
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The Planet

Acquittal at Last For Nikitin

A St. Petersburg court has acquitted former Soviet submarine captain Aleksandr Nikitin, who was charged with espionage in 1996 for his contributions to a report on the dangers posed by Russia's fleet of aging nuclear submarines. This latest trial involved the eighth set of charges made against Nikitin in four years.

"Hopefully now Nikitin can rest," said Stephen Mills, director of Sierra Club's International Program. "No one should have to suffer the harassment and abuse Nikitin endured for speaking the truth about threats to human health and safety."

But the Office of the Prosecutor has filed an appeal and requested that a different judge preside over the case. The Nikitin case will be truly over only if the Supreme Court rejects the appeal.

"Dolphin-Safe" Will Live Up to its Name

Weaker standards for dolphin-safe tuna - and a new logo to go with them - were struck down by a federal judge in April after environmental groups filed a lawsuit.

The Clinton administration had proposed to weaken the standards when some of the foreign countries whose fishing boats use tuna-fishing methods that are lethal to dolphins threatened to take the United States to a World Trade Organization panel.

The new standards would have allowed the "dolphin-safe" label to appear on cans so long as observers on fishing boats didn't actually see any dolphins being chased or trapped and drowned in nets. But shipboard observers can't see dolphins that might be drown in nets up to a mile in length.

Under the existing standard, which will stay in place as a result of the April ruling, the number of dolphins killed annually in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean declined from more than 100,000 in the late 1980s to fewer than 3,000 in recent years.

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