Baltic Sea Info Tour/Belarus
Tour Stop in Belarus
Belarus is the most affected country by the fallout of the reactor explosion in Chernobyl 1986. It has no nuclear power plants, but the Belarussian government forces the construction of its first NPP by the border to Lithuania. Doing action in Belarus is not allowed by the government; the anti-nuclear activists living there are confronted with massive repression.
In Belarus the main goal of the Baltic Sea Info Tour is to educate people about the threats of nuclear power, because of a lack of independent information at the same time with massive pro-nuclear state propaganda. The infotour will stop from July 15-17 in Belarus. We will provide public information events and a regional network gathering here. Those participants who can't join the infotour stop in Belarus will have an alternative stop in Vilnius with activities and afterwards resting days for as well the participants of the Belarussian stop as well as those of the Vilnius stop.
We travelled to Belarus, a very symbolic stop because Belarus is the country which is most affected by the Chernobyl tragedy. Regardless of that, the Belarussian authorities want to build a new NPP. The site is 15km from the town Astraviec (Астравец) not far from the Lithuanian border.
About 15 people took part in this stop. They came from different places in Belarus, Russia (Murmansk, St.Petersburg and Moscow), Finland, Denmark and Germany. Every evening we were joined by local people. Not everyone who wanted to was able to join this stop because of the visa application process. Some people where in Vilnius during the same time and had actions there. Still, it was a very interesting part of the tour.
Belarus is a very peaceful, clean and nice country at first blush, but with a difficult political atmosphere and limited freedoms. We didn't have a public action because it's almost impossible to do that in Belarus. During our three-day stay we visited many natural and historical places and met local people who are against the NPP because it would harm these places.
Our first activity was a press conference in Minsk on Thursday morning. Due to summertime, we only had few press who were actually attending. There were 5 speakers: Falk Beyer introduced the Nuclear Balitc Sea Info Tour, Ulla Klötzer talked about issues with final storage of radioactive waste that NPPs produce, Per Hegelund talked about the radioactivity of the Baltic Sea, Georgy Lepin explained about the dangers of nuclear power in general and Tanya Novikova explained more specific things about the situation in Belarus.
In the afternoon we travelled to the region in the north of Belarus where the NPP is about to be built. We could already see the beautiful landscape of this country and our vehicle passed the first wind power plant of Belarus. In the evening at camp we introduced the "Baltic Sea Info Tour" to everyone who was there, introduced ourselves to each other and discussed about our program.
Very early in the morning at 5 AM we got up and went to the place where the construction of the NPP is planned to see (without being disturbed by construction workers) what it looks like. There is no actual construction work yet, but there is a signpost informing that this is the construction site, some construction vehicles and levelled ground. Later we learned that this territory is not for the NPP, just for the road. Maybe for the NPP. It's a bit funny. In authoritarian regimes it can happen that just one person is sure about the plan and everybody else is just trying to understand the directions of his thoughts and looks very stupid.
Then we visited the "NPP Information Center" in Astraviec and had an interesting and at the same time stupid-funny discussion with the personnel there. Firstly we want to say that this is a disinformation center, it's a propagandistic center. Here we could only find positive words about nuclear energy. Nothing about nuclear waste, nothing about leukaemia, nothing about alternative sources of energy. Only modern, clean and safe nuclear energy... The PR employee there tried to answer our questions, but didn't seem very confident: After a break he got help from two men directly involved in the construction of the NPP. One of them was the vice chairman or something. One of the most telling comments of the day was made in a discussion about nuclear waste. They said that they are going to send it to Russia. One of us asked about the consequences for the 25.000 coming generations and then one of them said something along the lines of “it's going to be the consequences of the people in Russia”. They seem to deal with this very responsibly...
Later the expert Andrey Ozharovsky criticized every poster that was on the walls of this center, while the NPP employees were forced to justify themselves and looked very pitiful.
We heard a talk from Ulla Klötzer (Women against Nuclear Power, Finland) about the history of the anti-nuclear movement in Finland and a lecture from Andrey Ozharovsky (Ecodefense, Russia). Yuriy, a local, gave a presentation about nature protection areas that would be in the surrounding area of the NPP. Yuriy had openly voiced his opinion that the NPP is dangerous for the protected areas and was fired from his job for this. Then we had a presentation of local anti-nuclear initiatives and their work in Belarus and of the anti-nuclear work of the regional organization of "Priroda i Molodezh" from Murmansk (Russia), we saw anti-nuclear films and discussed a lot, switching over to a general planning of how to develop activity in Belarus.
In evening we had a meeting with local people and discussed about their help to anti-nuclear movement in Belarus. Being openly against the NPP in Belarus is quite courageous, because when you are against something the government is doing it means that you are against the government in general - the bitter truth of an authoritarian regime.
After three full days of activity and connecting to Belarussian activists we moved on to Vilnius for resting days and will be in Poland from 21-23 July.
Travel Schedule of the Belarus Stop
- Wednesday (Jul 14): travelling from the previous stop in Riga to Belarus
- Thursday - Saturday (Jul 15-17): STOP in Belarus
- Sunday (Jul 18): travelling to Vilnius for having two resting days and afterwards to the next stop in Jezioro Żarnowieckie
Other Information about the Belarus Stop
- coming soon
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Belarus&oldid=357571413 as at April 25, 2010
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