Socio-ecological Union

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

Moscow, Russia -- Issue 2(11), February, 2000










  The results of both public and official reviews of the projected Roots Nuclear Power Plant were publicized in January and February 2000.
  Despite the fact that both reviews commission worked with same documents, the outcomes were quite different.
  The public review commission was set up of 44 experts, on the initiative of two Rostov region environmental organization - the Green Don movement and Rostov Public Environmental Center. In its work public commission had to overcome different obstacles, created by official authorities. For example, according to the Russian legislation, public review has right to access all documentation concerning the project. In reality, review participants had to prove these rights almost every day of work.
  The public commission came to conclusion that the NPP project had many mistakes, inner controversies and did not comply with the current requirements for NPP and environmental safety.
  The conclusions of the public review had been passed to the State environmental committee and to the official environmental review commission and were to be taken in account while making decision on the project.
  However, the official commission decided that the NPP project was safe. It is eve more surprising, as the project has not changed since year 1995, when first official environmental review for the Rostov NPP was held. Then the review decision carried the set of recommendations, which were to be fulfilled before the project could start.
  However, today Minatom - the Ministry for nuclear energy - need unconditionally positive decision, as it is in haste to stuff its new NPP with the plutonium fuel. It is the only reason for building this power plant, as today Rostov region has enough electricity meet its needs. The story of public resistance to Rostov NPP is already long, and it seems, that new chapters will be written in it very soon, as nobody is going to give in.


  This question was in focus of attention of prominent Ukrainian scientists, representatives of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Health Care, Ministry of Science and Education, biotech companies' PR managers as well as green NGOs activists who participated in a roundtable discussion that was devoted to the problem of GM foods and took place on February 15 in Kiev. The question turned out to be a difficult one: there were many contradictory answers. Ecologists and some of the scientists don't think that possible effects of GM-products on the environment and human health are studied well enough to grow transgenics in large quantities in our gardens and then flood the market with altered organisms without even taking care to label them. "Each customer has a right to choose - whether he/she will consume transgenic or organic foods" - this is the viewpoint of the ecologists - "the constant opponents of such advanced companies as Monsanto, Novartis and Aventis" as they were called by Monsanto representatives. The transinternational producers of GM-foods as well as some scientists believe genetic engineering to be an epoch-making discovery. Referring to the experience of the United States and Canada, they insisted that Ukraine should smooth the way for biotech foods and approve their use in our country. Noteworthy that it is happening at the time when transgenics meet with growing resistance from European customers who insist on further testing (provided people are not treated like guinea-pigs, as it may happen in Ukraine). The British government, for instance, requires special labelling on foods containing altered ingredients including those that are on restaurant menus.
  Concerning Ukraine, there is no law that would regulate the spread of transgenics on its territory. Ukrainian delegation participated in the international meeting in Montreal which resulted in drafting up the Biosafety Protocol that applies the precautions principle to the spread and use of GMOs. Participants of the meeting - Andriy Ostapenko (Ministry of environment and Natural resources), Tetyana Topchiy ("Green Dossier") and Olga Berlova (Socio-ecological Union, Russia) - introduced those present at the round table discussion to the history of this international document, its positive and negative points.
  Nevertheless most contributors to the discussion focused on the main question of the press-club and the debates at times almost lead to direct confrontation. The biotech companies' PR managers could neither agree with the ecologists nor refute their data that proved the unsafety of GM-products.
  The question of possible risks associated with the use of biotech foods still remains vexing. Probably the organizers of the press-club, journalists of the Charity Informational Centre "Green Dossier", will come back to this topic more than once. But how can one objectively cover all aspects of the problem and introduce all the interested parts, when the very next day you appear behind the door of your cordial guest? Monsanto, apparently having no need for alternative opinions and unexpected questions on behalf of journalists, conducted its own press-briefing the day before the press-club discussion. The "Green Dossier" that invited Monsanto representatives to take part in the discussion did not receive invitation to Monsanto's press briefing. Though, it may have been only a coincidence. It just happened so that Monsanto PR department decided to conduct its press-briefing in the framework of their advertising campaign a day earlier than the press-club discussion that raised the question of possible risks associated with GMOs and where Monsanto PR men had to work hard once again.

  EcoWeek Bulletin of Green Dossier


  December, 1999. Moscow water state enterprise lost the case against Valday National Park located in Novgorod region in Northern part of Russia. State bodies were sued by the Park because of the illegal construction and using of the dam on the biggest lake of the famous park. All the project activities should have passed state environmental impact assessment, but it was not done and dam was built to pump drinking water for Moscow. According to the experts the water of the lake is clear enough to drink it without purification. The regional court decision was to stop using the facility destroying the unique natural complex of the river Yavon' which sprang from the lake, and its surroundings.


  Joint session of Ministry of Nature Conservation of Armenia (former USSR republic in Transcaucasia) and Armenian Academy of Science was held in February in Erevan, capital of the country.
  Ministry of Nature Conservation reported on the results of the project they launched in one of forest holdings to restore the forest complex destroyed by the war with neighboring Azerbaijan and energy crisis of 1990-ies. Illegal logging in the country resulted in an elimination of over than 300 thousand cubic meters of forests.
  It will be no exaggeration in saying that this sunny and very dry land is facing catastrophe now. To grow a tree here is harder than wherever else at the European continent because ancient and beautiful Armenian land is as droughtier as stony.
  Armenian NGOs are planing workshop on the issue at the end of May. Goal of the seminar will be to work out a project aimed at restoration and development of Armenian forest complex.
  They are asking for help:
  - they are looking for independent experts from public organizations who might come to Armenia and take part in the workshop which will include discussions in the office and field trips;
  - they also will appreciate any financial support of the workshop.
  Armenian nature will reward you! - Grant Sargsyan, Eco-Club "Tapan"



  On February 10 the SEU Council has adopted the SEU Forest Campaign. The main goals are to promote the conservation of the unique forest ecosystems and to promote the transfer of the forestry and the forest industry to sustainable development.
  In reality, the SEU Forest Campaign has been active and has achieved a lot long before it was adopted officially.
  Among the achievements one should mention well-known campaign for the Karelian old-growth forest protection. As the result, logging in the most valuable areas was stopped and now the establishment of the nature reserves in the most valuable areas is in process.
  In the Far East in 1992-93 we managed to stop the logging at the future Botchinsky reserve, and since 1998 the work aimed to save the Central Sikhote - Alin forests were started.
  In 1994 - 95 the World Bank funding of 4.7 mln $US for Siberian moth outbreak suppression shifting from chemical to biological methods was raised;
  The Forest bulletin on forest issues for NGO representatives and people involved in Russian forestry is published quarterly in hard copies.
  Information exchange and contacts with national and international colleagues, continues are two of the most important tools for increasing the abilities of former Soviet Union organizations to participate in and have an influence on decision making processes within their countries. The situation of Russian forestry, including the presence of foreign industry, is changing and developing at such a rapid rate that it is essential that information is made available not only to foreign colleagues but also within Russia to the public at large. Several of the organizations which have been most actively working on forest issues are now in a position to share their expertise and assist other local groups in taking part in the work.
  Due to the increasing involvement of foreign activity in Russia, the demand for regular information updates from Russian NGOs on current forestry practices and developments has increased correspondingly. In response, an electronic "Forest Update" is now sent out bimonthly on mailing list. It allows different groups within Russian and foreign groups working on Russian forest issues to receive quick information on decisions made on different official levels, planned decisions, different forest related activities by government, business and NGOs, initiatives etc. The English version tends to focus on all FSU countries serve for closer cooperation on Russian forest issues.
  Through the years 1997 - 99 The Russian Forest Update Russian and English version has gained a significant number of interested recipients. To quote one of the constant users of both versions from Scandinavia- "it is extremely useful as gives quick and exact picture of what is going on the vast area to the East".
  This electronic publication allowed keeping an eye of different processes going in Russia and CIS both Russian and foreign interested auditorium.
  Together with other NGOs the voluntary certification process according to Forest Stewardship Council system has been started. The SEU members are participating in the national workgroup on Russian certification criteria development.
  The SEU Forest Campaign aims on development of the full scale SEU Forest Program. According to one of the SEU Forest Campaign initiators, Vladimir Zakharov, the full scale Program will become a reality, when all SEU members and allies, dealing with forest problems, will be interested in joint activities. The discussion of such program activities has already started within SEU community.
  One of the activities currently planned by the SEU Forest Campaign is work on conservation of the mountain old-growth forest in Armenia, in collaboration with ecoclub Tapan.
  In year 1999 we started work on the identification and collection of the "positive initiatives" in forestry. Unfortunately, we don't have too much of the positive examples yet, but some of the positive elements we managed to discover are really valuable. These practices may give the start to sustainability in forestry.
  Many of the SEU members and other organizations are interested in forest planting, and this is the initiative that must be supported by all means. The Forest Campaign works to connect these groups and to facilitate the networking among them. Many of the groups still lack the experience needed, and we are working on a special handbook for those, ho want to plant their own forest.
  To learn more about SEU forest activities, you may visit the site.


  ECODEFENSE! is an international, non-governmental, non-profit, environmental organization founded in 1990 in Kaliningrad (former Koenigsberg), Russia; a member of the Social Ecological Union.
  ECODEFENSE! stands on principles of deep ecology, biocentrism, and non-violence combined with social responsibility and justice.
  ECODEFENSE! works to inform and involve more ordinary citizens to environmental and social activity through the organizing of educational events, environmental campaigns, non-violent direct actions and the spreading environmental information, co-operation with the legislative authorities.
  ECODEFENSE! is working to stop violations over human rights and insists that the rights for a healthy environment and information are fundamental rights must be available for every single person.
  ECODEFENSE! urge: We have no right for any compromises in the defense of our Mother-Earth, at least because this is only Earth we can live on!
  ECODEFENSE! branches exist in Moscow, Voronezh and Sophia



  - Organizing various events (exhibitions, concerts, and video-shows, clean-ups) aimed to bring the public attention to different environmental problems;
  - - Annual youth environmental summer camp (together with Kaliningrad youth environmental organization OZON);
  - - Teacher's training, developing the methodical materials and curriculum;


  In October, 1998, given the experience accumulated, the favorable relationship and cooperation with the local parliament (Kaliningrad Duma) Committee on environment and natural sources, ECODEFENSE came up with the suggestion to establish the Public Council on Environmental Education attached to the local parliament. This structure united teachers of kindergartens, schools, universities, activists of non-governmental organizations, employees of libraries, museums, the national park - representatives of the education system who are able to contribute to establishment and development of effective system of environmental education as one of necessary conditions for sustainable development of Kaliningrad region. The Council is aimed to assist in development and implementation of the common policy in the field of environmental education in the region.


  Games as methods of environmental education Published quarterly since 1996, in Russian, 500-700 copies of an issue, 15 issues are available to date. In Russia distributed for free. Addressed to kindergartens and schools teachers, colleges and universities teachers, children's and youth environmental camp organizers, clubs leaders, students of pedagogical faculties, libraries, museums, national parks and preserves staff, activists of non-governmental organizations, - in a word, to everyone involved into endless scopes of environmental education.
  Objectives of the magazine:
  - accumulating and broad disseminating of best examples of Russian and foreign experiences in the field of EE;
  - - uniting like-minded enthusiasts;
  - - supporting creative initiatives in the field of EE;
  - - developing and forming new models of teaching, which facilitate building of environmental culture.
  The world is changing so quickly that human beings do not have time to adapt the changes caused by them themselves. New dangers and threats arise, the total risk is growing. In order to decrease it, it is needed to understand and take into consideration the total combination of risk factors. What is needed in the education is shifting from teaching "facts" to learning sense of events, developing ecological humanistic worldview, mastering skills to use knowledge learnt. For that active methods of educating should be used.


  - "Ecodefense!", the only in the region alternative environmental magazine;
  - Public environmental library (archive materials, documents, periodicals, books, video);
  - - Co-operation with the local media (preparation of environ-mental materials, the specialized public awareness and comprehension increasing heading in one of the Kaliningrad newspaper, press-conferences);
  - Publication of brochures ("Report on the energy situation in Kaliningrad region", 1997; "Report on possibilities for alternative energy sources in Kaliningrad region", 1998; "Nuclear Energy. Questions and answers", 1996; "Antinuke Book for very beginners", 1998; "Multinational Corporations. Questions and answers. A brief guide", 1998), postcards, leaflets.


  "Ecozashita" ("Ecodefense") magazine is published in Kaliningrad by ECODEFENSEinform agency. The agency was formed in 1993 when it became clear in accordance with the strategy of ECODEFENSE that one of the main objectives of the group is gathering and spreading of reliable environmental information. Today ECODEFENSEinform is:
  - "Ecodefense" magazine, radical environmental publication, ideally 4 issues a year, in Russian, distributed via post and at meetings with Ecodefensers;
  - "Igorny Dom", specialized information methodical magazine on environmental education, 4 issues a year, in Russian, distributed via post and at meetings with Ecodefensers;
  - electronic weekly information bulletin "Anti-Atom Press", in Russian;
  - electronic information bulletin "ex-USSR Nuke News", in English;
  - - weekly program "Environmental Comments" on Kaliningrad radio;
  - - Information bulletin on nuclear energy WISE News Communique - Russian version, monthly.

  ECODEFENSE! has accumulated an experience of information gathering, preparing and distributing: publishing its own printed and electronic editions, preparations of the materials for the official mass media. Such editions are an effective means of ecological information spreading, they are also able to help in environmental campaign organizing and to promote environmetally friendly projects.
  "Ecozashita" ("Ecodefense") magazine published since spring 1994 (there are 17 issues available at the moment) and distributed for free (and in exchange to other publications, information and articles for the magazine or for further distribution) in Russia and the CIS The main themes discovered in the magazine are the environmental movement in Russia and abroad, protest actions, conferences, projects, global processes, nuclear power and alternative energy sources, anarchy movement, sustainable way of living and alternative culture. Being the only specialized environmental periodical edition in the region, the magazine publishes not only environmental news. This is a magazine of social-cultural focus promoting the values alternative to the consumer society ones, and in the first instance, trying to foster the environmental responsibility for the human deeds. We give a reader a choice which might help him to resist to the mass culture mainstream that falls upon him from the official mass media nowadays.


  - Organizing various projects and actions against Russian and foreign nuclear industry (NPPs, nuclear waste, transportations, MOX-fuel, and other nuclear energy problems);
  - - The "AntiAtom-Press" electronic bulletin, in Russian;
  - - The "NukeNews in ex-USSR" electronic bulletin, in English;
  - - Russian version of the WISE (the World Information Service on Energy) News Communique bulletin;
  - - Annual antinuclear summer camp.
  WISE in Russia
  WISE - World Information Service on Energy was set up by anti-nuclear and safe energy activists in 1978 in Amsterdam to function as an international switchboard for anti-nuclear groups around the world which want to exchange information and support one another. The aim is to empower grassroots groups by providing reliable information on nuclear industry and anti-nuclear activity and bringing groups in contact with one other. For more information please visit the WISE-Intrenational web site. WISE News Communique - Russian version aimed to assist Russian anti-nuclear movement in getting more well informed, competent, experienced, and skilled, and in its international cooperation. All the information provided by Russian WISE NC is followed by contact addresses that would allow Russian groups to establish direct contacts with international colleagues, to strengthen international networking, and would attract international organizations to problems of nuclear complex of our country.
  WISE-Russia was born in summer 1997, when anti-nuclear activists from Russia and Belarus took part in WISE Annual General Meeting in a nice castle in Budmerice, Slovakia. They were invited as the WISE people were seeking Russian partners to start working on Russian version of the WISE News Communique, the information bulletin consists of reliable information on nuclear industry and anti-nuclear activities around the world. Russian anti-nuclear movement is now facing problems that were in some ways solved by their colleagues in Western Europe and America, it needs support, experience, knowledge. WISE NC is disseminated throughout the world, but practically not known in Russia. In order to make the bulletin accessible for people interested in it in Russia the publication in Russian is needed. This way, two Russian WISE relays were established (in Kaliningrad - Ecodefense, contact person Galina Ragouzina; in Tomsk - Natalia Konyashkina) and the Belarusian relay (in Minks - Natalia Petrushkevich, Belaya Rus youth environmental movement) and their advisor in Moscow - Vladimir Slivyak, Antinuclear campaign of Social Ecological Union and Ecodefense, and the terms of their cooperation on Russian WISE NC were negotiated.
  From November 1997 till May 1998 they have managed to publish five issues of Russian WISE NC with the financial support of NIRS, USA. Then, due to a lack of finances, the work was stopped, but Russian WISE people have been striving to continue
  Year ago The "Rainbow Keepers", radical green movement, have established community "The Kasimov Alternative" in the nearby village. First it was only one house, restored from the poor condition by the community members. Through the last year they have held several events on alternative environmental lifestyle and culture. Now they have bought and restored another house. Here is the overview of the Kasimov Alternative program.


  Antifascist project
  Counter-cultural project
  Ecological project
  Anarchist project
  Human-right project
  Town newspaper "The Way to Freedom"
  Publishing group "The Third Way"
  Annual festival of non-commercial and independent music
  Head-quarters of the international radical ecological movement "Rainbow Keepers"
  Central archives of "Rainbow Keepers"
  The program of Social-Ecological Union "Localization"
  Mission: Creating in the concrete region (the city of Kasimov in the Ryazan Region) the active model of the society which is orientated towards social-ecological values (absolute priority of Life and Freedom) with proper political, cultural, socialand economical mechanisms, and also soft mechanisms of protection from the system.
  Strategic task-minimum: 1. Creating in the region strong civil society and model of democratic self-government attractive for reproduction in the other regions of the country. 2. Creating the base of the movement "Rainbow Keepers".
  Strategic task-maximum: 1. Creating on foundation of the region free territory based on principles of ecological anarchism or similar principles. 2. Creating the base for total social-ecological changes in the country.


Tasks and stages

  Block 1. Preparation.
  1. Working out the program "Kasimov Alternative"
  discussions of the theme in the electron nets of social organizations and on the pages of their publications, on the seminars, conferences etc (the work was begun in 1998, summer);
  carrying out regular meetings of activists engaged in the project (since November, 1998);
  carrying out the conference of "Rainbow Keepers" (RK) in connection with working out the program (May, 1999);
  dividing up spheres of responsibility among the participants of the project, making a schedule and a list of necessary resources and the ways of their mobilization (since May, 1999);
  concluding an agreement between RK and The Social-Ecological Union (SEU).
  2. Mobilization and concentration of potential, engaging new participants in the project
  - resolutions about central project and special funds at the conference of RK;
  - work at The SEU - through the program "Localization", conferences of SEU and the Council of SEU. Making "The Kasimov Alternative" one of the priorities of activity of SEU;
  - distributing the program "The Kasimov Alternative" among social organizations (since May, 1999);
  - publishing propaganda materials in "The Bereginya" and other publications of ecological movement and also in the publications of other movements.
  3. Creating the base (the first project in Kasimov)
  acquirement of the house (November, 1998);
  installation of a telephone and E-mail (the telephone is installed);
  concentration of several central functions of RK in Kasimov (archives, headquarters etc., since May, 1999);
  starting the first social project;
  town newspaper "The Way to Freedom"; selling alternative publications (since 1999);
  creation of special fund of RK;
  base of vacancies and real estate for provision of employment of the participants of the project.
  4. Drawing investments to "The Kasimov Alternative"
  search for means for "development of free society", for ecological projects in Kasimov etc. through funds or means of social organizations engaged in the project;
  starting self-funding projects - cafe, book-shop etc.;
  an English-speaking volunteer for communication.
  5. Development of the projects
  assistance to the organizations who wish to create their own projects in Kasimov;
  creating economical base of the project - that is repaid projects, perhaps, with consolidation of some part of means into total fund of the project (publishing, conference-center, alternative or ecological tourism etc.);
  carrying out regular conferences with corrections or additions to the program "The Kasimov Alternative", engaging new strengths etc. (since May, 1999);
  creating agrarian sector (buying a neglected village in the region);
  concluding agreement with other alternative projects;
  transferring in Kasimov offices of SEU (the program "The Localization" etc.) and other organizations, for example, correspondent office of "The Bereginya" - Agency of Volzhskaya Ecological Information (AVE-info)...

  Block 2. Infiltration.
  Working out the program of alternative (non-industrial) development of the region and town
  search for experts and engaging them in the project;
  regular seminars (perhaps, of international level).
  6. Development of alternative civil society
  creating or assistance in creating of block of social organizations (ecological, juridical, trade-unions) in Kasimov;
  creating mass organization with anarchist orientation (Federation of Anarchists) and mass trade-union with anarchist orientation;
  starting RK's public projects of "The Kasimov Alternative" (publishing newspaper, radio station, book-shop, library, club);
  creating open lecturing bureau (then - university, college), work of participants of the project in cultural and educational institutions.
  7. Remaking political system
  working out the program of political actions;
  system of regular gatherings of residents (turning in the system of referendums);
  system of participation of society in acceptance of decisions;
  direct control over the bodies of local self-government, possible participation of the project in local election;
  attempts to realize some elements of alternative by means of existing agencies (for example, to use Volunteer Public Order Squad for people's self-defense from criminals).
  8. Remaking economical system
  working out principles of alternative economics (releasing time, creative work, and orientation on simple, long-lived products);
  removing maximum possible part of local economics from monetary sphere;
  total employment at the expense of reduction of working time;
  stopping moving marketable floods to the intro-regional level;
  stimulation and support of small business (without hired labor), cooperatives (with equal share participation) and municipal enterprises ( especially oriented towards local consumption). Soft superseding other subjects of economics, hard supersedingtransnational corporations.
  9. Laying cultural bombs
  propaganda of RK and other movements as the only alternative;
  toponimical policy (calling streets, populated areas, natural objects politically attractive names);
  square of three cultures;
  memorials, museums to anarchist classics;
  renaming the region in "revolutionary" or "autonomous";

  Block 3. Expansion.
  10. Popularization of "The Kasimov Alternative" in mass mentality over the country
  establishing special press service and juridical department;
  publication of environmental newspaper from Kasimov, radio station and other mass media;
  11. Making alternative nets
  direct agreements with subjects of alternative space (Chiapas, etc.) and also similar regions;
  propaganda through the associations of self-government, small towns and other structures;
  12. Reaching real autonomy
  constitutional possibilities;
  political confrontation (with consolidation of all society and possibility of creating parallel structures of self-government in the case of liquidation of the official structures).
  Send your suggestions with regard to development of "The Kasimov Alternative", organization of your own projects or participation in the existing projects on the above-mentioned address.

  P.O.Box 52, Kasimov, Ryazan Region, 391330, Russia,
  tel.+7 (09131)4 15 14

Back to SEU Times home page