Socio-ecological Union

The Newsletter of
the Socio-Ecological Union
A Center for Coordination
and Information

Moscow, Russia -- Issue 1 (01), January, 1999

Dear friends from all over the world,
     This first  issue of SEU NEWS is talking about Socio-Ecological
Union - an international umbrella community - activities and events. 
This covers life of wide-range SEU member organizations in different countries. 
The SEU News will come to you monthly, and you are welcome to distribute, 
publish and use information it contains.
We are expecting eagerly for your comments and ideas for possible

Sincerely yours,
Sviatoslav Zabelin
Goldman Environmental Prize winner-93
Co-chairman of the Council of Socio-Ecological Union,














     On 1998 Christmas eve SEU - the largest environmental
organization within CIS - celebrated its official 10th anniversary.
Ten years ago, the founding conference in Moscow gathered more tha 400
people from 89 places of then still existent USSR to pronounce
establishment of the Socio-ecological Union. This notable event was
publicized by the central and most powerful then newspaper Pravda, and
in ten years of its existence SEU has proved to become one of the
really influential environmental forces.

     Among SEU first projects one should definitely mention all-USSR
public campaigns, widely supported by people and media, against ill -
prominent projects of turning Siberian rivers' flow and channels'
Volga - Chograi and Danube - Dneper constructions. These victories of
then young organization gave it a good start, but one would be
mistaken if consider the SEU only a protest organization. This, by and
large is not true, as SEU different member organizations lead numerous
educational, civic, conservation, human rights, environmental impact
assessment, clean up, training projects, may be less chanting but of no less importance.

     Devoted to the protection of humanity and nature living space,
SEU has another attractive feature - active civic and social
development work. Thus, in early 1991
the first Soviet - American NGO conference was
held, bringing together socially active people from once completely
different worlds and launching many friendships and joint projects
lasting up to day. Among these the most large scale, important and
useful was environmental telecommunications project, carried out by
the Sacred Earth Network (SEU member organization) and SEU Center for
Coordination and Information. This project, providing CIS NGOs with
equipment for e-mail access, gave start to now sophisticated and well
developed NGO information network, enabling fast information exchange
and cooperation.

     Today SEU and its members may boast different international
awards. Among them acknowledgement as one of the 50 exemplary
communities, selected on the 50th UN anniversary.
     So what is the unique structure of this organization - exemplary
community - enabling to cooperate people and organizations of
different views and work styles, and where the springs come from?
     The story of SEU actually goes back to 60's, when Student
Movement of Nature Guards arose - being non-formal, uncontrolled
by the authorities, it was probably first legal and still independent
civic structure.
     For years of its existence movement has developed its own
traditions and democracy, and a whole network of concerned people -
once movement active participants. Concern for the future and
friendship based on common work brought these people together a year
before the SEU founding conference in Caucasian reserve, where the very
idea of SEU as an organization emerged.

     Based on cooperation and democracy, SEU has no governing
authority obliging members to conduct or to refrain from certain
activities. (Decisions are made by SEU conference, and elected by the
conference Council has representation rights in between).

     Today the SEU has gathered 250 member organizations from
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Chekhia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Norway, Palestina, Russia, Scotland, Tadjikistan,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USA and Uzbekistan, its overall membership is
near 25.000. Activities are different as the members are, but making
attempt to generalize, public involvement in environmnetal safety
issues, social ecology, chemical and nuclear safety, alternative
energy, biodiversity conservation, sustainable forestry, environmental
health, ozone and climate, air and water problems. Lobbying and
pressure groups are also working within SEU. The programs on
environment-friendly housing, childrens' health, nuclear safety,
environmetal education, chemical safety were adopted as all - SEU

     The Chairman of Zaporozhie Environmental Club (Ukraine) wrote:
     "It is good to feel involved into something great which SEU, its
goals, its members and its work definitely are. I am proud of being a
founder and member of SEU".
     Well, I guess, we all are: And, I hope, will be for a long time:

 Tel/fax: +7 095 124-79-34
 www-site -  
 Mailing address for inquiries: 
 P.O.Box 211, 121019 Moscow, Russia


    Working for environment became a risky business these days. This is
illustrated by two Federal Security Bureau (former KGB) driven cases
in Russia against environmentalists, known already to the
international community. The names of people prosecuted are Alexander
Nikitin and Grigory Pasko. The charges and style are similar, as you
will see below. The purpose is similar also - to make people keep
their mouth shut while state machine is doing its dirty business. No

    Alexander Nikitin is employee of Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian NGO -
SEU member organization. He is charged with espionage and disclosure
of state secrets while working for the Bellona Foundation. He was
arrested by the FSB on 6 February 1996, after writing two chapters of
a Bellona report on the risks of radioactive pollution from Russia's
Northern Fleet. Jailed for 10 months following his arrest, Nikitin has
since been restricted to the city limits of St. Petersburg. For his
environmental work Alexander received 1997 Goldman Environmental
Prize and several other awards. For NGO community Nikitin case is
never ceasing issue, and activities aimed to free Nikitin will
continue until all charges are withdrawn. SEU is an active member of
this campaign, the SEU CCI Press-service keeps sending out update and
comments on the case to international, Russian central and regional
media. SEU have issued several statements on the case, and the last
you will find abridged below.

*Last developments*
    Nikitin case was tried in St. Petersburg City Court between October 20
and 29, 1998. The St. Petersburg judge's decision to return the case
to further investigation was appealed by both the prosecutor and the
defense. Their respective appeals were to be heard in the Supreme
Court on February 4 1999.

    The Supreme Court session in the Nikitin case on 4 February was held
behind closed doors. The presiding judge, a member of an officially
abolished department within the Supreme Court Council for the Criminal
Cases, made the decision in fear that state secrets might have been
released. In reality, there were no legal grounds to have closed
session. The court was not to consider the merits of the case, but
rather evaluate the legality of the 29 October 1998 St. Petersburg
City Court ruling to send the case back for further investigation.

    Citing a lack of evidence produced by the FSB, the Russian Supreme
Court rejected motions from both the defense team and the prosecution
in the case against Aleksandr Nikitin. The judge sided with an earlier
St. Petersburg court ruling and sent the case back to be investigated
further. Meanwhile, Nikitin remains under virtual house arrest.

    Yury Schmidt, defense leader, said they received the expected result.
"The Judge was not courageous enough to make a final decision."
Prompted by reporters, Schmidt said he believes the court's decision
was influenced by the FSB. "They will not give this case up, it
seems," he said. So far, the FSB has not been able to convince any
court that they have evidence to convict Aleksandr Nikitin, who faces
what could be a never-ending effort by the hapless FSB at constructing
an indictment.

    Taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights will be the
next step in the Nikitin Process. Lead by Bellona's legal advisor John
Gauslaa, the defense team has made preparations for taking the case to
the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
     "We should be able to submit the case to the ECHR before the end
of March," said Gauslaa, who sees no reason to doubt that the court
will decide to deal with the case. "Unless Russia agrees to a
settlement, she will be convicted," he said, adding, "then Russia must
follow the ECHR's ruling - or lose her membership in the Council of

Bellona press-releases used for the article

     Mr. Pasko, the commander of Russian Navy, is the corresondent of
the nespaper of the Russian Navy in Pacific Ocean "Boyevaya
Vakhta"(Vladivostok). The main themes of his articles are utilisation
of nuclear submarines and processing of radioactive waste materials.
In spite of violent resistance all his published articles concerning
these issues were approved by the editor-in-chief.
Grigoriy Pasko also worked for Japanese mass-media - newspaper "Asahi"
and TV company NHK.

    The 13 of November 1997 when Pasko was leaving for business travel to
 Japan all preparatory materials he had with him were withdrawn in the airport of
Vladivostok. He received all these documents legally, and the use and
publishing of them are not restricted.

    The 20 of November on his way back Mr.Pasko was arrested in the airport of
Vladivostok and is under the arrest till now.
    He was accused of high treason.
    The rights of G. Pasko have been continiously infringed by investigating
bodies since the illegal withdrawal of papers in the airport till today (the
investigating bodies denied all solicitations of independent examination of
withdrawn materials, of changing the mode of suppression, of permission of
wife's visits to prison, of keeping the legal norms of custody).
The activities of investigating bodies are realized with such rough
infringements of law that the criminal case would be ceased irrespectively
of the substance of the accusation. For example, the strict order of
searching and withdrawal is infringed, the materials received by illegally
overheard telephone conversations are filed to the case, etc.
Meanwhile, all these infringements didn't help the investigating bodies to
proove the accusation.

    The incriminated article of criminal code "High Treason" suppose three ways
of committing the crime:

1. Espionage.
The prosecution itself declared in public that Mr.Pasko was not an agent,
had no network and was not recruited by any secret service.

2. Divulgence of State secret.
The investigating bodies didn't find the prooves of such divulgence and
intend to incriminate Mr.Pasko the fact that in accordance with conclusions
of experts the withdrawn materials in whole (the materials withdrawn in the
airport and during the search at Pasko's home) may contain the information
which can be considered as State secret though each document itself does not
contain any secret.
On these grounds the prosecution incriminate him "the collection and keeping
of information containing the State secret with intention of its

3.Other assistance rendered to foreign state, foreign organization or its
representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of security of
The investigating bodies have no information concerning hostile activities
of the newspaper "Asahi" and TV company NHK to the detriment of security of
Russia. Meanwhile, the representatives of FSB many times declared that
Mr.Pasko rendered assistance to foreigners for big remuniration. Mr.Pasko
had no business contacts with any foreign institutions except the above
mentioned ones. So, this part of accusation is not only an attempt to charge
Mr. Pasko illegally but also a hostile attack upon Japanese mass media.

				TO:	FORUM 2000
13 of July 1998

    Dear colleagues!
    We hope you will render assistance and support in journalist G.Pasko defence.

    The prosecution and criminal case is the glaring example of situation in present Russia.

    The main theme of G.Pasko's article was problems of utilization of old nuclear submarines
 and nuclear waste materials. One could find in his articles the information about 
pouring out of liquid nuclear waste materials in the Sea of Japan, about the facts which 
revealed the unpreparedness of Russian industry to solve problems of processing of 
nuclear waste materials, and about the general unfavourable situation in this field in 
Pacific Ocean region.
Actually we know positively that there are no prooves of crime ("high treason") which Mr. 
Pasko is charged with. The purpose of prosecution is to take the spreading of ecological 
information in Russia under secret service's control, and that is the infringement of
 international commitments and internal law.
Recently the dangerous tendency is prevailing in our country: the purposful and deliberate 
concealment of information concerning the ecological situation and firstly information
 concerning ecological problems of processing of nuclear waste materials.

    As confirmation of this fact Russia did not sign the "Convention of access to information, 
participation of broad public in the process of decision-making and access to justice in 
issues concerning environment"(Orhus, Denmark, 25 of July 1998).

Dear colleagues!
Your countries invest much money to assist Russia to overcome its present crises.

    We understand your aspirations for political and social stability in one of the 
biggest nuclear powers, because only the stability is able to guarantee 
the security of the whole world against this "nuclear keg".
However, in case if the professional freedom of such people as Grigory Pasko
 would be restricted (and Russian secret service tries to prevent these activities)
 you would receive the illusive semblance of tranquility, founded on the lack of 
knowledge about imminent ecological disasters.
The ecological disasters are not limited by frontiers, and so there should be no
 limits in spreading of ecological information. That's why we hope you will 
share our anxiety with the case of the journalist Pasko.

    In case if you don't draw attention of your governments to this problem all 
investments you make in building the democratic Russia will be reduced to 
dust, and the world will face the disaster much more awful than the Chernobyl.


    Between October 20 and 29, 1998 St. Petersburg City Court tried case
of environmentalist Alexander Nikitin, charged with espionage and
disclosure of state secrets while writing two chapters of a Bellona
report on the risks of radioactive pollution from Russia's Northern
Fleet. The St. Petersburg judge found charges and evidence present
inconvenient and made decision to return the case to further
investigation. Thus court once again showed the insolvency of charges
that FSB is trying to press upon our colleague for three years.

We, of Socio-ecological Union, Declare:
     1. The Bellona report publication had major importance both for
Russia and international community, drawing attention to the safety
problems in North-West Russia, calling for joining international
efforts to solve the problem.
     2. The past trial set an important precedent of objective case of
environmental information publicizing and attempts to treat this by
federal security entities as state secret disclosure court
examination. We approve the practice of handling such cases in legal
and civil way.

     The court found charges lacking of evidence, but did not change
restrictions for Alexander Nikitin to city limits. This decision
violates Nikit(i)n's
constitutional rights and freedoms. This leads to define all situation
as violation of fundamental democratic rights guaranteed by
Constitution, as punishment setting precedent for prosecution
environmental activists. The case of other environmentalist, Grigory
Pasko, confirms our concerns.

The military and Minatom objects cause irreparable harm to the country
environment and to its population health.

Citizens' legal activities for environment protection contradict
interests of military and nuclear agencies. The span of Nikitin and
Pasko cases indicate attempts of these agencies to create a system of
suppression and prosecution of environmentalists under cover of state
secret protection.

We express our firm protest against restraining Alexander Nikitin and
Grigory Pasko, other environmental activists, who were not proved
guilty in open and just court trial.

Glasnost Defense Foundation information used for the article
    On January 21, officers of the Committee for National Security (former
KGB) detained and delivered Vyacheslav Mamedov, leader of the Russian
community of Turkmenbashi city, to Ashkhabad for the second time.
Among the charges he was accused of: his interview with the Russian
radio station Mayak that some days later was called defamatory in
public. Later, the charges suddenly changed to pure criminal - there
was an attempt to accuse Mamedov of fraud, but all inspections found
no evidence for that.

    On the day after SEU received bad news information was sent out to the
international community. NGOs urged their countries embassies to
react, and the human rights violation fact could no longer be secret.
Human Rights Watch, Glasnost Defense Foundation, Human Rights Defense
Organization "Panorama", SEU CCI and member organizations from
Turkmenistan - only to mention a few of those who stand for Mamedov's
freedom. Due to the international pressure, Mamdeov was released from

    The first time, Vyacheslav Mamedov was detained by KNS officers at the
Ashkhabad airport in December 1998, having returned from Moscow. For
several days he was interrogated by chiefs of the country's security
services, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan sent a
protest note to the Russian Embassy stating that Turkmenistan
"reserves the right to take measures of a political and legal
character against the participants of the interview."

    It is not the first action taken by the Turkmen authorities to repress
different trends of thought of any kind. For the fifth year in a row,
there is not one independent newspaper edition in the country. Since
October 1996, subscriptions to foreign, including Russian, newspapers
and magazines are absolutely prohibited for private persons and
non-governmental organizations. All these facts are evidence of the
Turkmen authorities' unwillingness to observe principles of freedom of
the press and freedom of expression.


    Altai was added to the List of World Nature Heritage by the
UNESCO commission on World Nature Heritage session in Kyoto on
December 1, 1998. The nominated area includes Altai zapovednik,
Teleckoye lake, Katun' zapovednik, Belukha mountain, Ukok flat
highlands. The major input for the nomination came from SEU members
"Altai - 21 century" Non-Commercial foundation, "Katun'" TV and Radio
company, Pacific Environmental Resource Center, Sacred Earth Network
and other organizations, including Greenpeace - Russia, Altai
University, supported by Altai Governmnet and Parliament, Global Green
Grants foundation and Liza Tracy personally.
    Altai was fourth area in Russia to receive World Nature Heritage
nomination - after lake Baikal, Kamchatka and Komi forests.

    The old-growth forests of Bashkiria are under threat due to the
Bashkirian Cabinet's decision to build three dambs on the river Belaya in the 
south Ural region. The valley of Belaya contains large areas of pine and 
pine-broadleaf forests.
    The area involved has several protected areas, like zapovednik Shulgan- 
Tash and Bashkiria National Park. The whole area was planned for World 
Nature Heritage Nomination.
    The building of three dams
will result in 80-90 kms of the river being flooded and communications
will be laid in virgin forests. There seems to be no obvious need for
the electricity the station will provide, but as there are no
settlements on the river Belaya there appears to be little protest
against proposal.
     SEU members have taken several actions to prevent this monster
project. We ask international conservation organizations to join us in
these activities. Write to: Alexei Pazhenkov, e-mail:,
Igor Karyakin, e-mail:, Ilya Smelyanskii, e-mail: or Zhenya Chelaznova, e-mail: for more information, SEU CCI Press-service,

     Unique lake Onega will be devastated and large area of Karelia
contaminated, if uranium mining project will be pushed forward -
Karelia Greens Association (SEU member) reported.

     The debates around the project of uranium mining at Srednyaya
Padma had started in June 1998, when Karelian government announced
contest for the right of deposit exploitation.

     From the very start the whole project caused fierce opposition
not only with green movement, but also with local people and Karelian
Parliament, for several reasons.

     Of course, environmental safety and economic reasons were the
first concern. The harmful consequences of uranium mining are
well-known - radioactive contamination of soil and water as the result
of ore extraction would last for decades, influencing local population
health and turning unique and tourist-attracting Onega lake into
radioactive waste pool. Contamination would lead to death of all local
traditional nature use trades. Even more, Onega lake is connected to
the Baltic water system, thus contamination spread becomes
unpredictable. The other reason is economy - the project is not
promising much profit - as times of major interest and highest price
for uranium were those of cold war, and right now no world agency
foresee any prospective of uranium demand rise.

     The other concern is the firm that claims the right for deposit
mining. It's Nevskegeologia, on and only mining contest participant,
and ill-reputated after it has discovered Srednyaya Padma deposit.
Back in 1985, Nevskgeologia made test extractions without any
precautions, leaving then radioactive ore lying unattended, causing
spot radiation contamination.

     Not much more assuring sounded Nevskgeologia's project
presentation at the Parliament Hearings - no specific safety, no
responsibility: Driven by concern for the wellbeing of Karelia,
Parliament Members under the leadership of Valentina Yevseeva (SEU)
compiled a set of recommendations for Karelian Governmnet concerning
the project, suggesting ban on any activities before the state
environmental review results come and proposing to consider moratorium
on uranium mining for preservation of unique fertile soils and lake

     Karelia Greens Association and SEU Antinuclear Campaign launched
international fax protest campaign in September, and actually public
pressure shifted the decision on contest from September to January.
Faxes from international community are still coming to Karelian
Government, which has already received protest address from Karelain
NGOs and 1,5 thousand local people.

     Despite the facts listed, Contest Committee on January 20
announced that it is ready to issue license to Nevskgeologia. The
whole case comes to federal law infringement - as there is no positive
conclusion of federal state-environmental review for the documents 
supporting the license issue.

     The first regional referendum in Russia was found illegal by
Kostroma regional court on January 25 1999. Thus the decision made by
referendum was found illegal also - and that result was precisely what
nuclear lobby desired.

     The whole case arose around referendum that was held in Kostroma
on December 8 1996 and questioning the future of Kostroma Nuclear
Power Plant construction. The answer to the question " Do you want NPP
to be constructed in Kostroma region" was "NO" by 90% of those coming
to vote - and that was 58% of population of Kostroma region.

     Referendum was organized by SEU member organization - movement
"For the Sake of Life" and Greenpeace-Russia. Movement members
gathered 36 000 signatures needed for Regional Duma to make decision
for holding the referendum.

     It seems possible that Kostroma referendum showed once-privileged
industry that it is high time to start protecting "peaceful nuke" from
public opinion.

     Despite obvious people negative attitude nuclear lobby decided to
push forward the project of Kostroma NPP construction.
     The first step was to create powerful Informational Center
Rosatom in Kostroma - on of three in Russia.
     The other was to preserve the territory planned for NPP
construction for future use.
     And the last one was to prove in court that referendum violated
rights of NPP construction workers brought there by Rusian Ministry of
atomic energy and Rosenergoatom - the entities that ordered the whole

     Movement "For the Sake of Life" would not give up - on January 26
appeal to the Higher Court was filed, and we all are waiting for the

In January negotiations held by Minatom on the nuclear waste import 
for treatment and storage from Swirzerland, Germany and USA were 
revealed and publicized by Greenpeace. Minatom offered these countries 
to import and treat their nuclear waste for only $300 (while international 
price is $1000), leaving all hazardous treatment products in the country. 
This Minatom attempt to make it's own "little business" betraying interests 
of people and environment in Russia is not only immoral, but also illegal - 
Russian legislation prohibits imported nuclear waste storage in Russia. 
On this fact SEU issued a Statement, declaration part of it you will find below.

     Russia is not a world nuclear waste storage facility! Instead of
costly attempts to preserve the "Minatom Empire", this agency should
seriously turn to conversion giving its huge potential to Russia
clean-up and not contamination.
     Improper are references to means' shortage, and we pay special
attention that huge million-scale credits for Minatom construction
works abroad should be stopped.
     We call upon President to examine dangerous Minatom policy
that may lead to radioactive material spread and weakening declared
position on non-spread of nuclear arms.
     We are firm that more efficient and safe use of state means would
be development of energy efficient technologies and renewable energy
sources instead of constructing NPPs.
     We call upon President, Government, Federal Council, and General
Prosecutors Office to examine closely regular Russian Federation law
violations by Minatom and demand to hold responsible those agency
representatives setting illegal agreements, allowing illegal
construction of floating NPPs, keeping information on radioactive
contamination secret.
     We turn to international community urging to publicize shameful
Minatom negotiations in your countries.
     Socio-ecological Union will do everything to prevent Russian
environmental law violation and will not allow turning Russia into
world nuclear waste facility.


     In January one more organization joined Socio-ecological Union.
This time it is Friends of the Earth Finland. We would like to give
them worm welcome, and to introduce to the community.

Friends of the Earth Finland is non-profit environmental organization,
founded in Turku, Finland, June 1996.

Declaration about the purpose of the organization is
-To change society towards more democracy and ecological sustainability and
to localize economy
-To advance equality in society, economics and politics and between
-To protect planet Earth from further spoiling and to repair damage human
actions have made to environment
-To save ecological, cultural and ethnical diversity of planet Earth
-To work against militarist structures
-To advance human and animal rights

    Friends of the Earth Finland works decentralised way, the purpose is to
improve capacities of small, autonomous groups working with just few special
problems, but also to organize common campaigns with common goals. Friends
of the Earth is independent of political parties and religions, people with
any background are allowed to join to and work with Friends of the Earth

Major focus groups within the organization are:

    Globalization-group was one of the main actors in bringing
MAI-treatment to public discussion during year 1998. During 1999
Globalization-group will organise Finnish part of the "International
Caravan", series of events organized by dozens of European NGO's such
as A SEED, PGA etc.

    Climate-project is working against climate change, Friends of the
Earth Finland has participated Sustainable Europe-campaign of Friends
of the Earth Europe, and published a book "Sustainable Finland".

    Group for families with children has been around from the very
beginning of Finnish FoE. Group works on parent's input towards
sustainable environment with everyday consumption choices and
education of Children. Main activity has been organizing meetings for
families with children.

    Traffic group is currently working against motorway schemes. It has a
history of succesful campaign against hypermarkets of Urban areas,
past year it also worked with international campaign to introduce a
Kerosine-tax and to regulate air-traffic by other means as well.

    Forest group of Friends of the Earth Finland is monitoring activities
of Finnish forest giants, such as UPM-Kymmene and Enso-Stora at the
developing countries. Finnish corporations have invaded developing
countries during last decade, often with help of development loans
from Finnish governement, bringing with them methods destructive to
both rainforests and local indigenious people. Friends of the Earth
Finland is working with international NGO community to save remaining
rainforests, Finnish forest giants being it's main target of
campaining work.

    Campaign on Nuclear power organized 1997-1998 a huge series of
happenings with theme "Indigenious people and uranium" with the
campaign on indigenious people. Although dangers of NPP's in action
are often heard, less common is the devastation the production of
uranium is bringing. Now campaign is producing a video with same theme
to international distribution, activists of the campaign have also
participated international Trident ploughshares-campaign to disarm
these mass destruction arms of NATO.

    Connection to Earth seeks solutions to enviromental and social
problems by changing cultural patterns of our society, practically by
organising big happenings with this theme.

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