Interpreter testifies at trial of chemist

MOSCOW — MOSCOW -- Judges at the trial of Russian chemist Vil Mirzayanov heard testimony yesterday from the interpreter who assisted Sun correspondent Will Englund when he was questioned last year in connection with the case.

Emerging from the closed-door hearing, Andrei Mironov said he testified that the official record of that interrogation "distorted" Mr. Englund's responses about his interviews with the Russian scientist. In 1992 Mr. Mirzayanov had alleged, in two Russian newspapers and in The Sun, that his country was still working on new chemical weapons.


Mr. Mironov has since become an active supporter of Mr. Mirzayanov and asked to be a witness at the closed-door trial, which charges the Russian scientist with leaking state secrets in the articles.

According to Mr. Mironov, when Mr. Englund said during his interrogation that the scientist "gave me only non-technical, non-tactical information," the investigator, Viktor Shkarin, wrote, "Mr. Mirzayanov gave me information."


Mr. Mironov testified that his translation was "correct and full -- but it was used by an investigator incorrectly and not fully."

Mr. Englund refused to sign the statement provided by Security Ministry investigators at the end of the four-hour session in April 1993. And in a letter to the court earlier this week, he cited the "false" document as one reason for his "grave reservations about participating in a closed trial."

On Tuesday Mr. Englund received a summons to appear as a trial witness. He asked for a delay to confer with his lawyer and also requested that his testimony be taken in open court. So far, the court has not responded.

"There's been no discussion about it," said Alexander Asnis, Mr. Mirzayanov's attorney.

Yesterday's witnesses included Lev Fyodorov, the scientist who first urged Mr. Mirzayanov to go public about Russia's search for a new nerve gas.