KALININGRAD — A Russian couple charged with high treason have gone on trial for photographs taken at their wedding five years ago and published online that allegedly revealed the identity of a security operative.
Konstantin Antonets and Antonina Zimina were detained in July 2018 in Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.
Zimina’s father, Konstantin Zimin, told RFE/RL on May 14 that the Kaliningrad Regional Court had held preliminary hearings into the case several days ago behind closed doors.
He added that his daughter and son-in-law rejected the charge.
“There were two hearings held in the utmost of secrecy, the second of which was held without the defendants and their lawyers in the courtroom. At this point, there is no information about the process. I know that the next hearing will be held on May 28,” Zimin said.
Zimin’s comments were the first indication that the trial had begun in a case that made headlines in February after the Kommersant newspaper initially reported about it.
Zimina’s parents told RFE/RL at the time that the Federal Security Service (FSB) suspected their daughter and her husband of providing the intelligence agency in the Baltic state of Latvia with information about a Kaliningrad FSB officer.
According to Zimina’s parents, among the guests who attended the couple’s wedding in April 2015 was an FSB counterintelligence officer, Maksim Denisenko, who was their daughter’s friend and former university classmate.
At the wedding, Denisenko spoke openly about his employer, offered “assistance if need be,” and handed out business cards and posed for photographs with guests, Zimina’s parents said.
The parents also told RFE/RL that their daughter’s friends from Latvia and Lithuania also attended the wedding.
Kommersant reported in February that some videos and photographs from the wedding were later published on social media and were eventually included in an unspecified Baltic television program, prompting the FSB to open a criminal investigation.
Russian military and intelligence agencies have grown increasingly concerned about social media and how content posted online by soldiers, officers, or security personnel to platforms such as Facebook or VK, Russia’s Facebook equivalent, can be used to identify people, their affiliations, or even military movements.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning members of the armed forces from carrying smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets capable of recording and storing information while on duty.