Anti-nuclear Movement in Belarus
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- Baltic Sea Info Tour in Summer 2010
- July 23rd-25th: stop in Belarus - 3 days of action, information events and network meeting; topics: new NPP, consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe
Belarus and nuclear energy
The Chernobyl Disaster
In the disaster most of the damage was received by the Republic of Belarus which has 75% of the Chernobyl radiation. Having been destroyed and devastated many times throughout the centuries by conquerors, Belarus faced an invisible enemy this time, and the consequences of this fight may prove fatal for over 10 million Belarusian people. That's why at the environmental summit in Brazil, a nuclear physicist Stanislau Shushkiewich, declared Belarus a zone of ecological catastrophe and thus shocked the summit's participants with the truth about Chernobyl. Some scientists assess the result of the Chernobyl explosion as equivalent to 150 Hiroshimas...
How could it happen that the nuclear power station accident in the territory of the Ukraine affected Belarus so badly? The answer is simple: after the disaster the wind blew constantly in the direction of Belarus, the Chernobyl power station being located just 4 miles from the Belarus-Ukraine border. The Moscow newspapers wrote, after all that "fortunately the wind didn't blow in the direction of Kiev," which would otherwise have been swept from the face of the Earth. Yes, unfortunately it blew in the other direction where there also lived hundreds of thousands of people. The most contaminated area of Belarus is in the Homiel' region with a population of about 1.5 million people. Another huge pollution area is the Magilyow region which is rather far from Chernobyl. How could it happen that in some areas of the Magilyow region the radioactivity was the same as in the nucleus of the disaster 200 kilometers away? There's still no exact answer, but an investigaton conducted by the Belarus novelist and public figure Ales Adamowich showed that the huge radioactive cloud moving from Chernobyl to Moscow was shot at by Soviet chemical troops and then the cloud came down on Belarusian territory. Thus, one quarter of the population of Belarus turned out to be living in the contaminated territories.
What did those May rains and south-east winds bring to Belarus? The total release of the radioactive substances was estimated at 18,500 million million becquerel, or 50 million curies. This is 2,500 times that of the the Windscale nuclear plant accident in England in 1957, and 16 million times that of the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania in 1978. Nearly 30 radioactive isotopes had erupted from the burning reactor. Most of them were short lived, like iodine-131, tellurium-132, zirconium-95, or cerium-141. They affected the population mostly during the very first days and months after the disaster, and those days, by no means, were the most tragic, because the governments of Belarus and the Soviet Union not only didn't provide the people with the necessary instructions for protection, but even made the people, as usual, take part in the 1st of May demonstrations. Meanwhile, the children of the communist leaders themselves were far away from the dangerous zones, starting on the first day after the disaster, when the true but secret information was available to them.
Nuclear ambitions of goverment
A few years ago the ruling class started to consider an adventurous project – the construction of a nuclear power plant. Lukashenka took a decision regardless of the public wishes and common sense. The decision was made with the active support of the international nuclear lobby. The construction is to be undertaken by a Russian corporation “Rosatom”. It is to be held in a seismically active zone, several dozens kilometers away from Lake Naroch – the largest lake in Belarus, which is ecologically unique for the country and is a tourist attraction. On the construction $4 billion will be spent, which otherwise could be outlaid for development of alternative energetics.
- Minsk’s cooperation agreement with Moscow on building Ostrovets NPP ratified in closed-door parliament hearing
А callout for common actions against the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Belarus
26 April – the day of Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Present-day Belarus is a post-soviet police state with current neoliberal regime holding strong position. For already 14 years the country is run by one and the same person – Alexander Lukashenka, who used to be a populist, but now is openly pursuing antisocial reforms.
Fundamental political freedoms - of speech, of the press, of assembly - are not recognized in our country. Political opposition, independent trade unions and non-governmental organizations are suppressed. Political trials, preventive detentions, dispersions of peaceful gatherings – all this has become a norm of political practice in Belarus.
A few years ago the ruling top started to consider another venturesome project – the construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP). Lukashenka took a decision regardless of the public wishes and common sense. The decision was made with the active support of the international nuclear lobby. The construction is to be undertaken by a Russian corporation “Rosatom”. It is to be held in a seismically active zone, several dozens kilometers away from Lake Naroch – the largest lake in Belarus, which is ecologically unique for our country and is a tourist attraction. On the construction $4 billion will be spent, which otherwise could be outlaid for development of alternative energetics.
But the above-listed points pale before the fact that Belarus shared 70% of radioactive contamination after Chernobyl nuclear accident. But the government and the president are absolutely not concerned about that. They want to create a delayed-action bomb in the country, where one third of the territory is unfit for farming and most other activities.
We, “Antinuclear resistance”, an anarchist group, come out against nuclear power industry as a whole and against the NPP construction specifically in Belarus. A part of political forces in Belarus, including some 'oppositional' parties, supported the NPP construction. Unlike them we do not believe in NPP safety irrespective of the political regime, within which it is functioning and being constructed. Our activity is based upon non-authoritarian principles, we do not cooperate with any political parties, but we are eager to cooperate with ecological organizations and grassroots initiatives.
On 26 April, the day of memory about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, an annual demonstration “Charnobylski Shliah” (“The Chernobyl Path”) takes place in Minsk in commemoration of the accident and the people who became the immediate and lingering victims of it. Starting with the year of 1996 anarchists take part in the demo with ecological and antinuclear slogans. But nowadays the demonstration, instead of just mourning and commemorative event, is gaining a protest mood: in the country, where dozens of thousands people have died as a result of the nuclear accident aftermaths and hundreds of thousands have acquired accident-caused illnesses or become handicapped, a new NPP is to be constructed! And that is done according to the common practice of an authoritarian police state – not asking the people’s opinion, but just confronting them with the fact.
On 26 April we will again take a most active part in the “Charnobylski Shliah”, we’ll try to pass along to everyone our clear antinuclear position, will inform as many people as possible of the approaching danger. But now it is not enough! As an instrument of struggle against the state lawlessness we rely on the international support.
We urge anarchists, environmentalists and all concerned people to carry out solidarity actions on 26 April 2009. We call for a decentralized day of action of any form, which could help people learn something about our problem and stop the impudent authority and their sponsors from IAEA.
If you already take actions on 26 April on your local problems concerning nuclear power engineering, please put on your list the demand for abolition of the NPP construction in Belarus. You are also welcome to participate in the “Charnobylski Shliah” in Minsk and other actions in Belarus.
Together we will be able to stand up for the right for life on a clean and ecologically safe planet!
If you have any intention to make solidarity actions with the Belarusian antinuclear movement or participate in the demonstration in Belarus please contact us:
Spread the callout through any accessible for you information channels.
"Anti-nuclear Resistance" press-release: Chernobyl Path 2009, Minsk, April, 26, 2009
"Anti-nuclear Resistance" press-release: Chernobyl Path 2009, Minsk,
April, 26 2009
On the 26-th of April traditional demonstration "Chernobyl Path" took place in Minsk. Its aim was to commemorate victims of Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and to say "No" to nuclear energetics.
Participants of demo started to gather on the area near Academy of Sciences from 12:00 a.m. Gathering and initial rally took about 1 hour, and total number of participants just before procession was about 1.000 demonstrators - and this is today, when new Chernobyl threat has become more clear, when it seems that all forces should be applied to resist construction of NPP in Belarus. The reason is simple and clear: all opposition parties and movements totally ignored agitation company for attracting usual citizens to participate in "Chernobyl Path". So demo was mostly formed by different opposition organizations (about 5) and "Anti-nuclear Resistance" - anarchoblock with black, red'n'black and green'n'black flags, formed by 130 people.
During the rally participants of "Anti-nuclear Resistance" were holding banners "Alternative exists" (it means that alternative and renewable energy sources can substitute NPP), "We are against the nuclear reactor" and "Anti-nuclear Resistance". Leaflets with anti-nuclear and pro-anarchistic contents were spread during the rally. A lot of slogans against nuclear energy, state and capitalism were shouted by participants of anarchoblock, among them: "No to NPP!", "All budged is spend for NPP, no money left for salaries!", "Country without NPP! Country without monsters!", "We demand alternatives!", "Rise higher black flag - state is main enemy!", "Officials are thieves, politicians are liars! For the dollars they are digging a grave for country!", "We are stronger and we shall win!", "Our solution is self-governing!".
From the very beginning of the rally anarchoblock was put under constant and the most steadfast observation by KGB: more than 10 of its employees were filming, fotoing and "accompanying" block from the start to the end of the event. There was not so much of usual cops in the demonstration area.
After rally demonstrators crossed the street by subway, where they continued shouting slogans. There was an intrigue from the very beginning of the event: will the participants go by the route allowed by authorities, or will try to go to Yakub Kolas square, risking to confront with riot police. However, seeing that almost none of demonstrators is set to confront, and way to the square blocked by 3 lines of riot cops we decided to go some time by allowed route and then to turn to our route and go till it's appropriate.
During time we were moving by B.Khmelnicki street riot cops were regrouping to block the Ya.Kolas street. So, standing on Ya.Kolas street, we were shouting slogans like "OMON - SS" (OMON is former name of riot cops), "We don't afraid!", "A.C.A.B.!", as well contacting through megaphone students watching from windows of nearby hostels calling for resistance and reproaching them being not on the street.
After that we collect our flags and banners and started to leave the event, protesting against attempts of the authorities to impose there route. Even during our way home we where accompanied by about 20 cops in mufti.
WORDS(rus) & FOTO:
Later at 18:40 40 activists of "Anti-nuclear Resistance" made a short unauthorized action on the square near supermarket "Belarus". Action was short cause cops patrolling street nearby immediately called for support from the nearest police station. However, even during that short time we were able to attract attention of passers using samba-band, banner "Alternative exists" and red'n'black flags. About 200 anti-nuclear leaflets were spread during the action.
Despite police and KGB control none was detained during the whole day.
The same day, activists in Hrodna also did not leave that day without attention: two banners "Chernobyl'1986 - Astraviec'20??. Anti-nuclear Resistance" were hung out in public places, and about a hundred pamphlets "Mythology of "peaceful atom" were distributed.
In 2008, the Security Council of Belarus has taken a final decision to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus. Nobody asked the people of Belarus, whether they want to have a delayed nuclear bomb in their country. Even without it most people in Belarus feel the impact of radiation. At the same time, the nuclear power plant will be constructed in credit for Russian assets. The money for the payment of the loan, at least 4 billion, will be taken from the pockets of the population, and how much construction will really cost we can only guess.
However, an alternative to nuclear power exists. This is solar, wind, biomass energy and small hydro-power plants. We propose to use funds to be spent on construction and maintenance of nuclear power plant, for development of alternative energy sources. In the future, this will help reduce the production costs of energy, avoiding the consequences of new Chernobyl.
For "Anti-nuclear Resistance", as for anarchists, "Chernobyl Path" is also the only day of the year when we can express our political views and do not run away from cops immediately after that, so the preparation was treated seriously and responsibly, and that gave its results - despite the common "failed" demonstration, we were the very bright and organized group of all who came. As well as not having support "form outside" we can already compete with the opposition in releasing agitation production and attracting people to our ranks.
Using riot cops and many "mufti" government wants to intimidate those who have an independent opinion, who thinks with his/her head, not with TV. Obviously one thing - they do not go! Year after year, we become increasingly more. Meanwhile government has force - but the truth is for us! Despite government's opposition, we'll achieve our goal and shall live in a country where decisions what to build and how to live will be made by us!
- OstWestBrücke - information on the impacts of Chernobyl to Belarus, and projects to help German
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