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[Duurzaamlijst] de SEU-Times - socio-ecologisch nieuws uit Rusland

Dit is een doorgestuurde aflevering van de SEU Times, de nieuwsbrief van de 
Socio-Ecological Union. Dit is een Russische vereniging die een kleine 300 
milieu-organisaties vertegenwoordigt. De Newsletter is gericht op onafhankelijke 
informatieverschaffing van de ontwikkelingen in Rusland voor een internationaal 
Omdat de onderwerpen die hier aan de orde komen zeker met duurzaamheid te maken 
hebben, bij deze ter kennismaking de belangrijkste inhoud van de 
december- en januari-aflevering (in twee mails). Voor meer info: kijk op 

Met vriendelijke groeten,
Marieke Cieremans

>From "Svyatoslav Zabelin" <zabelin@online.ru> to SEU-Times list
***                   The SEU TIMES
***           Socio-Ecological Union Newsletter
N7(16) - special issue
January 2001
Published by Socio - Ecological Union
Center for Coordination and Information
Dear friends!
This issue is devoted to the latest developments in Russia
concerning civil and environmental rights and policies. We think that
what happens in Russia today is significantly undercovered by Russian
and international media. During the last press conference one of the
SEU leaders called this situation "a conspiracy of silence". It has
several causes - starting from the newly emerging political censorship
to simple unwillingness of journalists to do their work (that goes
mostly to western counterparts).
It is a crucial moment when it is decided if Russia will become
totalitarian - the evil empire - again or not. It seems that official
international community prefers to have any regime that would allow
the highest possible grade of resource use - from forest felling and
mineral resource extraction to nuclear waste storage. The game of
democracy in this world is over, and our worst prognoses about the
globalization prospects are coming true, unfortunately. Our only hope
is for the international public community - we still believe that in
some countries public pressure may influence governmental policies
even on international level. If there was someone left who believed to
the claims of their governments and different international financial
organizations to observe the situations with environmental and human
rights in the region and put the pressure on officials - do not
believe the damn lies!
In spring we addressed international authorities on abolition of
our environment protection agencies - there was no reaction. Our own
authorities called all public concerns "a cryout of bureaucrats that
lost their jobs". In the fall World Bank has approved another forest
credit without questioning what will happen to it as the Forest
service was abolished. In October on the governmental order Central
Election Committee killed the referendum by rejection 700 000
signatures of more than 2 500 000. In November whistleblowers' Pasko
case was renewed, while marshal Ugryumov, Pasko's main prosecutor, has
changed his position from head of Pacific Fleet FSB branch to a much
higher one - deputy head of the national FSB, responsible for
anti-terrorism work.
In December, having hands free from referendum, Duma voted for
the law allowing the nuclear waste import to Russia. This caused a
tide of public actions in many regions of Russia, but it hardly found
place in the national media, remaining in the regional inserts. "The
greens' best hope is foreign pressure... Many in the West also worry
about Russia's greens themselves." - wrote the Economist this January.
Speaking of worrying for greens own safety - on January 24 SEU
leaders Svyatoslav Zabelin apartment in Moscow was breached in.
Nothing was stolen, but papers were demonstratively tossed and thrown
out of their places. We think it is a "warning" from certain interest
It is quite possible that soon any attempts of international
pressure will be treated as proof of espionage and attempts to destroy
Russian state. At least some propaganda preparations are made for
that. The brightest example is the paper released by one for the PR
centers doing work for the Government, before the start of the Right
Defense Meeting in Moscow (you will read the article about it in this
issue). The meeting participants were to speak about the true
situation with the human rights in Russia and reveal the changes that
will soon occur in Russian justice system returning to the thirties of
the Soviet era. Many of the meeting participants were the witnesses of
Soviet totalitarian regime "correctional measures"; many of them were
in prison or were forced to emigrate. The article published even
before the meeting started called this meeting "something far away
from real needs and thoughts of the Russian people". It even did not
deny the changes coming up, thus telling us that these changes are
inescapable and inevitable, only saying that ordinary people do not
see any threat in them. Vice versa, they trust the existing regime as
it gives hope for order and prosperity. It also calls the right
defenders losers that have lost their chances to participate in
building the new country. It goes on with a statement of traditional
"civilizing" role of the government in Russia, meaning that Russian
public is no good itself. However, it praises the interest of people
"for their own good, without looking on to so-called civilized
countries". That is why, it says, the losers, the rights defenders,
have the far-away abroad public as the only audience... The paper is
frightening both in its form and meaning - as even the rhetoric and
wording seem to be taken either from Stalin's thirties or from some
classic anti-utopian book about worlds totalitarian future.
There is no mistake - the kid's gloves are off. The Russian
government is using both propaganda and force to silence the
opposition. However, the world, will not benefit from that. It is
crucial for the world safety that the iron curtain doesn't fall upon
the significant part of Eurasia - because nuclear and chemical
pollution, desertification, deforestation and climate change, wars and
diseases know no borders.
Yes, we'll keep on trying to make a breach in this new iron
curtain of silence. But a lot depends on you - spreading this
information to other organization or to the media, questioning your
officials on their policies on Russia and other CIS countries, sending
protest and support letters, talking about the problem on your
organizations meetings or conferences. Include the related problem in
different conference resolutions, if possible! Protest your government
funding harmful; projects in the region! Protest your energy companies
sending nuclear waste to Russia! Protest your TNC drilling oil in
fragile ecosystems of Caspian and Sakhalin seas! Protest against
timber products from old growth or other valuable areas! If you
participate in international environmental processes like conventions
and other agreement setting - watch and pressure delegations from
Russia - because there is almost no real public participation of
Russian NGOs in these processes for certain reasons and anyway
additional pressure would not harm. Show the officials and TNCs you do
care about what happens further than your place! Because this is what
they count on - not in my backyard thinking.
In case you decide to help us - here are some Russian official
The President of the Russian Federation 206-39-61
Communist Party of the Russian Federation fraction 292-56-85
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia fraction 292-97-69
Yabloko fraction 292-93-79
Agrarian deputies group 292-89-00
Russian Regions deputies group 292-91-69
Ministry of Atomic Energy (press-secretary) 239-25-35
"There was not such a meeting before in Russia - and, most
possible - we shall not witness such an event again. Either because
the rights defenders concerns would come true and then the regime
would not let them gather again, at least openly. Or - as a miracle -
the attack on human right will stop, and then there will be no need
together again. Unfortunately, life has taught us that miracles occur
rarely" - wrote the chair of executive committee of "Refugees
organizations forum" Lydia Grafova for Literaturnaya Gazeta.
On Jan 20 -21 all-Russian meeting for human rights defense
gathered more than thousand people from 64 regions of the country.
Yelena Bonner (Andrey Sakharov widow) said on the opening that thirty
years ago, when rights defense movement just emerged, there was enough
room in one apartment for underground gathering. Then it was
impossible to imagine this thousand people gathering for the
discussion of the threats for today's civic society.
Today Russia is turning into police state, and if society does
not want to be run over by it should act together to resist this
attack. This goal is vital and unrealistic at the same time - because
all the facts of human rights violations are seen and heard, but
people under the burden of the problems of their own do not react to
it. They even do not thing about changes that will change the
Constitution. The first step will be the new law that is drafted now -
about the Constitutional Assembly. According to it, the Assembly
members will not be elected any more, but appointed, though
indirectly, by the President. Another legal surprise for the Russian
citizens will be new Felony Code. In its existing draft it abolishes
the innocence presumption - now not the guilt, but the innocence
should be proved. Many speakers noted that the number of political
repressions will be growing, and environmentalists, as the most active
and obstacle-creating movement, will receive special attention from
"relevant entities", as used to be said in Russia. "The worst thing
that today's policy and propaganda are working - people are already
getting annoyed by the freedom of information and expression" - said
Alexey Simonov, Glasnost Foundation Chair. It is perceived by the
Government that the speech freedom is and obstacle for the
"dictatorship of the law" - official label for today's Governmental
There was a lot spoken about the media - both about the
censorship and about the media work in the past that allowed such
situation to occur. The Address to the media says: "It's been wasted
too much time. And now we have to hurry to protect human rights. In
deprived of civil rights society there will be a little need for
journalists - as the freedom of speech will be swallowed by the fear.
We understand that the market economy has forced media to undercover
the civil rights problem as non-commercial. But the time has come when
media will or already have need to be protected." Shortly before that
OBSCE has revealed information about the situation in Russia. "It is
clear that working in Russia is dangerous for journalists" - said
OBSCE representative. "Such policy is nothing but preparations to
political repressions. The history gives multiple evidences when
totalitarism and fascism had attempts to silence media in their
foreground, law and order observation were claimed as a goal. But
without free media no human rights may be protected" - said one of the
meetings resolutions. "Today we have fake speech of freedom, fake
independence of legal system, fake elections and fake diversity of
parties" - said Grigory Yavlinsky. The meeting was appealing to the
society - because the society, not the government should do everything
to prevent the threat. Meeting participant have set constant working
groups and then parted to their regions - to continue they work -
until it brings results or is forcefully terminated.
Russian authorities have long tradition of ignoring public
opinion and peoples' will. Having decided something, it hacks its way
ahead no matter what - leaving aside all democracy and civilization
games. The presumption that people are passive, uneducated and thus
does not understand its own good (that why this good is to be planted
forcefully) has been a guiding principle forever. The nuclear waste
imports situation is a good illustration for that - though the
"nuclear business" initiators were mistaking counting on people being
passive and careless. First, greens gathered more than 2,5 mln
signatures in favor of referendum on the issue, which in present
Russian condition would be equal to a peaceful revolution. Anyone
except total fool understood what the result of the referendum would
be, and even the "chief PR person of Russia" working for government
Gleb Pavlovsky said that "uneducated masses will win in case of
referendum". "The non-experts should not be allowed to vote" - in
accordance to the previous statement said the letter from some nuclear
physicists - some nuclear institute employees. So the Central Election
Committee (the entity responsible for approval of the necessary
documents for referendums and elections) had to fulfill the
governmental silent (or even verbal) order and to kill the referendum
by rejecting some 700 000 signatures (there were 2 mln necessary for
referendum). It must have been a hard work!
The greens were not chilled by that - they decided to go to court
for every single voice. It is obvious that the Government needs some
different public environmental movement - respecting the good
intentions of the country "fathers". And experts are working on that -
since last October there are attempts to create some academic "pocket"
movement called EcoForum. Up to that time this idea was not too
successful, but there is information that the new attempt will be
taken soon, with most pro-nuclear experts heading this pocket
"ecomovement". However, with no referendum coming (because this would
legally halt the decision-making process on the issue) State Duma had
its hands free to vote for the nuclear waste imports despite the
protests of their naive electors. Of course all was done according to
the best Soviet traditions - when anything was done "on request of the
working people". This time the working people were represented by some
hundred employees of the nearest nuclear institutes demonstrating in
front of Duma exactly before discussion and voting started. These
working people were well informed, as the voting time was changed on
late December 20. It was moved from Dec 22 onto December 21 - to
prevent the environmentalists' demonstrations. "It the must" - said
one of the Duma leaders about voting for the waste. "We must think
about the future". Sounds like mockery, but he was speaking about 20
bln USD promised by Minatom. To reassure the bright future, in
Chelyabinsk region (the key region of the case as the nuclear waste
reprocessing plant is located there) the heads of the nuclear waste
processing plant Mayak received key positions in regional government.
However, there is information that Mayak is unable to accept anymore
waste because there is too much of that already and that there are
equipment problems within the facility. Though Minatom promises to do
all repair and modernization necessary - using the money received from
the nuclear waste imports.
Though people (oh! That bad public!) say that this money won't go
anywhere but to new nuclear weapon technologies development. People
also say that each vote in Duma had its cost. The price was 20
thousand USD. So if all that is true Russian politicians have invented
a "nice" combination making West pay for Russian weapon production.
Though... Let's do SOME CALCULATIONS:
- first - Western corporations are getting rid of the nuclear
waste for the price that is much lower than on the market
- second - dumping endlessly nuclear waste in Russia is an
opportunity for the nuclear industry for long term irresponsible
development of the nuclear energy systems without thinking of waste -
on of the main problems.
- third - if what said about weapon development is true it also
give the US military green light for further development which means A
LOT OF MONEY. The racing tradition comes from the cold war, and has
always justified huge military budgets.
On the other column - earth polluted and dead for thousands of
years, generations of people crippled by radiation, deprived and
living in poverty. Kind of gloomy count.
Russia's public environmental organizations have begun an
unprecedented campaign entitled "Antinuclear resistance." Within the
framework of this program, on January 15th, numerous demonstrations
took place in more than twenty of Russia's regions: Kostroma,
Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Saratov, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Volgograd,
Yaroslavl, Cherpovets, Chelyabinsk, Samara. Thousands of people across
the entire country will still take to the streets to express their
protest against Russia's atom-lovers' great "nuclear venture."
The goal of the campaign was to prevent the increase of
legislative power behind the Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian
Federation that would grant the right to the Minatom to import foreign
used nuclear fuel rods and other radioactive materials for long-term
storage and reprocessing.


As Greenpeace Russia has learned, several representatives to the
State Duma have already brought motions to the Duma whose basic goal
is to prevent the import of radioactive waste and to neutralize the
legislation currently under discussion. They recommend the following:
every agreement to bring spent nuclear fuel rods into Russia should be
examined in the Duma as a piece of legislation.
The representatives forwarding this idea are Alexander
Nikolaevich Kosarikov, tel. 292-76-18 (assistant Yakov Mikhailovich)
and Aleksei Nikolaevich Tomov (assistant Vladimir Aleksandrovich),
tel. 292-75-35, and Igor Yurievich Artemev (assistant Anna), tel.
292-75-35. Kosarikov and Tomov are from the Edinstvo political
fraction, whose representatives voted in favor of the import of nuclear
waste. All three representatives are prepared to give interviews.
For further information:
Greenpeace, tel. (095) 257-41-16/18/22, Polina Malysheva
All additional information and event chronicle concerning the
story are found at www.forest.ru/eng/problems/control/
This issue was written and complied by
Sviatoslav Zabelin, the SEU Council Co-Chair, <zabelin@online.ru>
Olga Berlova, Victoria Kolesnikova - SEU CCI Press-secretaries,
Many thank to Lisa Woodson for help in preparing this issue
Previous Issues of The SEU Times may be found at "The Online Gadfly"
at www.igc.org/gadfly

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