The Newsletter of
A Center for Coordination
Moscow, Russia -- Issue 3(12),
IN THIS ISSUE:
GOLDMAN PRIZE GOES TO 2 SEU MEMBERS
FINAL VICTORY OF ALEXANDER NIKITIN
RUSSIA - THE COUNTRY OF PROCURATORS
CHILDREN FOR NUCLEAR FREE FUTURE
APSABARA - IN ABKHAZIAN - NATURE
"GREEN WORLD" RECEIVED "THE BALTIC SEA PRIZE"
GOLDMAN PRIZE GOES TO 2 SEU MEMBERS
The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world's largest prize program honoring grassroots environmentalists. Founded in 1990 by Richard and Rhoda Goldman, the Prize awards $125,000 annually to six environmental heroes from each of the inhabited continental regions. Nominated by a network of internationally known environmental organizations and a confidential panel of environmental experts, recipients are chosen for their sustained and important environmental achievements.
This year Goldman prize was awarded to the 6 grassroots activists - and 2 of them are SEU members. Alltogether, SEU boasts 5 Goldman Prize winners - Sviatoslav Zabelin (1993), SEU founder, Alexander Nikitin (1997) - environmentalist from Bellona Foundation, reveling the truth about radioactive contamination of the North-West of Russia, Paul Cox (1997) - Chairman of the Seacology, the world's premiere nonprofit, nongovernmental organization whose sole and unique purpose is to preserve the environments and cultures of islands throughout the globe.
Introducing 2000 year winners: taken from Goldman foundation press-release
A S I A
Over the past several decades, the Aral Sea - one of the world's largest freshwater inland seas has shrunk to almost half its size primarily due to water diversion for cotton production. The result has been a devastating ecological nightmare that has negatively affected the health and livelihood of some three million inhabitants in the region. An obstetrician, Oral Ataniyazova has addressed the high rate of birth related problems in the ethnically distinct Republic of Karakalpakastan. She has been raising awareness of the environmental and health impacts of the Aral Sea crisis and improving the lives of local people, especially the women and children.
Oral Ataniyazova, Uzbekistan
Early in the Soviet era, the entire region along the Amu-Darya River (which includes Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) was designated for cotton production and the river was dammed to divert water for irrigation. The heavy use of pesticides and defoliants needed for this monoculture crop, as well as heavy metals from mining operations, and discharge from chemical and biological weapons factories have severely polluted the region. Today, the groundwater in the region surrounding the sea is no longer suitable for drinking and each year tons of salt from the dry seabed blow onto nearby fields, resulting in the loss of thousands of acres of farmland. Women and children are among those most affected by the Aral Sea crisis.
In 1992 Oral Ataniyazova - who also holds a doctorate in medical science - established Perzent, the Karakalpak Center for Reproductive Health and Environment, in order to help the women and children of Karakalpakstan. Due to the severity of the pollution in the area, it is believed that its entire population has been exposed to dangerous chemicals over extended periods of time. Public health in the region has deteriorated with the worsening ecological situation. Over the past 15 years, there has been an increase in the rates of anemia, kidney and liver diseases, allergies, tuberculosis, birth defects and reproductive pathologies.
In addition to scientific research, family planning and medical assistance, Perzent offers a wide range of educational and community programs that focus on raising public awareness about the region's environmental and health problems. Most of Ataniyazova's activities concentrate on women and how they can improve their lives, including family health and the quality of food and water. Perzent trains local groups in areas such as health and hygiene, sustainable agriculture, as well as women's and children's rights. With branches in several rural districts, Perzent has created a 50-acre organic farm, a women's clinic and a publishing house. To fully involve the local people, Perzent actively solicits ideas from communities for practical solutions to the region's problems. More than 10,000 people have been involved in the organization's activities.
Ataniyazova has worked on these issues at the national, regional and international levels. As an expert in reproductive health, she has been a key spokesperson addressing various international agencies, including the United Nations. Despite many difficulties during the past two decades, Ataniyazova has helped improve the health and status of women and children in one of the world's most dramatic ecological hot spots.
Undaunted, she continues to speak out about the crisis that is destroying the lives of her patients and the future of their communities.
Vera Mischenko has been a pioneer in supporting citizen's rights on environmental issues and was the first to use the new civil code to represent other people, including future generations, without power of attorney. In response to the recent rush to claim land and resources for new industrial and commercial uses in Russia, Vera Mischenko founded Ecojuris, the first Russian public interest law organization.
E U R O P E
Vera Mischenko, Russia
As a legal pioneer, Mischenko has brought the first successful lawsuits against the Russian government in defense of citizens' environmental and health rights. She has strengthened the nation's environmental laws and has won major Supreme Court decisions. These have included protecting forests, stopping a railroad line through a national park and more recently, preventing a major oil development project on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East what was the first environmental victory in Russia involving the interest of a multinational corporation.
Vera Mischenko's efforts challenged the control-and-conquer climate of post-coldwar Russia by bringing the unprecedented lawsuits against the government in defense of citizens' environmental and health rights. She has focused primarily on the enforcement of environmental legislation, the environmental impact assessment process, and ensuring citizen participation in the review of development projects.
Leading a group of lawyers and experts, Mischenko helped Ecojuris claim the first legal victory for Russia's environment in 1992 by stopping the construction of a huge thermoelectric power station near Moscow. Eventually the plant was built; however, it is considered one of the best in Europe for utilizing modern gas technology.
A February 1998 decision in an Ecojuris case marked the first time in Russian history that a lawsuit in defense of public ecological interests triumphed in the Supreme Court. The case challenged numerous governmental decrees. One such directive would have allowed clear-cutting and development of 20,000 hectares (approximately 50,000 acres) of previously protected forest. Having been issued without an environmental impact assessment, the directive was in violation of existing laws. After the head of the State Duma filed a similar case concerning an additional 18,000 hectares, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the directives were illegal and three decrees were annulled.
Mischenko is also the creator of the Russian Network of Environmental Lawyers, a group of attorneys from across the country who do pro bono environmental work, and has helped draft environmental legislation for the Russian State Duma.
FINAL VICTORY OF ALEXANDER NIKITIN
At 12:30 Moscow time April 17, the Supreme Court verdict was made public: Alexander Nikitin, Goldman prize winner-97 has won the final victory in the four year nightmarish "espionage case" against him. The Russian Supreme Court confirmed the St. Petersburg City Court acquittal of Aleksandr Nikitin, deeming the prosecution's argumentation inconsistent and unacceptable.
Everybody at the Bellona Foundation is extremely happy that this marathon case is now hopefully brought to an end, and we wish to thank everybody that has supported Aleksandr during the years the case has gone on.
Although we can't be sure this verdict guarantees that environmentalists in Russia will be safe from prosecution in the future, it should help a lot. The Russian "security police" ought to be a lot more careful when choosing their targets after this. Today's victory is not only Aleksandr's, but, more to the point, one belonging to the Russian legal system as well.
This is a happy day indeed!
Regards, The Bellona Foundation
For more information:
RUSSIA - THE COUNTRY OF PROCURATORS
Things are getting more and more complicated for the civil society in Russia. The non-governmental orgnizations were always percieved as "anti-governmental" by officials. Last August Vladimir Putin, then the prime minister, declared that environmental NGO's were the base for foreign intelligence services. As the time goes, we are getting more and more proofs that this is the official position of the Russian Government.
The environmental NGOs of Russia were always at the foresfront of the developments in the country, and has annoyed officials for a long time, uncovering the thruth and ruining many "profitable" plans (like spent nuclear fuel deals).
Following the trials over the environmentalists, charged with espionage, RF prosecutors office has initiated series of "planned inspections of environmental NGOs activities in 16 regions of Russia". Prosecutor's office representatives are looking for possible "violations" in environmental NGOs activities. What kind of violations? What we got from the prosecutor's office was "if the NGO activities comply with their charters and how the funds are spent". In our mind, this means warning - "mind your own little green business and do not mess with the serious business". May we remind that among the last NGO activities was blocking of the changes in the legislation allowing spent nuclear fuel shipment to Russia.
According to the Russian legislation, prosecutors office may start the inspection of a certain NGO or other organization only after a complaint about the possible violations had been received... We still don't know who has complained about environmental NGOs activities in 16 Russian regions. What we know so far - no violations in NGO activities were found by inspectors so far. And what we also understand - this is just a start, active NGO's in Russia will have more problems in the future.
For more information:
SEU CCI Press-service
In this issue we introduce our readers to the most unique green media, the youth newspaper "Green Sail" what was born in 1997, by the enthusiasm of Lydia Choubarova, professional journalist. The "Green Sail" is published montly and is written entirely by the kids and is distributed through in Nizhny Novgorod region. It tells about the experience of the club and about the work of other children environmental groups. "Children a very receptive and very serious about the environmental work they are doing. For them, communication and cooperation with each other are very important. I guess, for all of us it is very important to know that we are not alone." - says Lydia Choubarova.
The "Green Sail" is solving one of the most important tasks - estblishing contacts and delivering information to the children in distant setllements of the region. The newspapwer is also a journalism school for the young environmentalists. "I hope that GS will lead to more youth newspapers - in the city and within the region. This will help us to learn more about each other",- says Lydia, - "for 2 years by now we are doing the young journalists schools. We also hope to establish environmental journalism lab".
As we wrote in the previous issues, Nizhny Novgorod is a center of the "Help the river movement". "Green Sail" participates actively in this movement, especially in the work of the "River Cleaners". Besides the informational support for the movement actions, "Green Sail" has conducted a number of workshops and actions, travelling through the region. The newspaper also has actions of its own - "The New year Tree" and "Snowdrop". The first action is aimed to save as much live spruces as possible during the New Year holidays. The snowdrop is aimed to prevent the elimination of the early flowering plants, it includes education and patroling. The "Green Sail" is open for contacts and cooperation.
Lidia Choubarova, "Green Sail" newspaper
CHILDREN FOR NUCLEAR FREE FUTURE
The multi-regional action "Children for Nuclear Free Future" is running through January 10 to June 1, 2000. Participants are 2 - 17 years old. Until Apri 26 multiple actions are to be held, with their peak during the Anti-nuclear week. The second part, from April 26 to June 1, will be devoted to experience exchanges, selection of the best works for the "Children for Nuclear Free Future" magazine and for the calendar.
In this issue we are shortly describing action held in Saratov region, in 30 km zone of Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant. Intitators and organizers of the action, Olga Pitsunova, Center for Citizen Intitatives Support and Olga Sivachenko, Children Environmental Theater "No matter what" share their thoughts and experience. "Kids are the most wonderful people in the world - always eager to look for the way out, always optimistic, always friendly and cooperative. The are more often "for" than "against", that is why, probably, the action was called "Children for Nuclear Free Future" and not "Children against NPPs". So if someone tells you that "the next generation chooses Pepsi" - do not believe". Participants from 50 settlements joined their counterparts from Saratov in action that was later called "a celebration". Children from Saratov Children Ecological Theater "No matter what" and CSEI members travelled through the setllements showing play on Nuclear Power problems, offering environmental games, speaking about the new deadly "project of the century" - MOX fuel program (loading nuclear power plants with missile plutonium).
Action turned into new friendships, and, symbolically, all particicpants brought their pieces for a large blanket - quilt. The action is continuing in other regions - Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Volgodonsk.
Olga Pitsunova, Center for Citizen Intitatives Support
Residents of big cities in Ukraine and in Russia are witnessing the signs of spring: flower markets and simply the streets are flooded with early spring flowers brought from Crimea. And those can't resist the temptation to give their loved ones a small bouquet are unlikely to think that every flower on sale accounts for 30 flowers that will not bloom next year.
In Ukraine the amount of flowers plucked without authorization is constantly increasing. If in previous years the inspectors came across occasional spring flower trade, today one can visit wholesale flower markets functioning in the Old Crimea and Simferopol. The "flower poachers" mostly attack flower species registered in the Red Data Book, such snowdrops, saffrons, primroses, cyclamens. Thus 50 flower species in Ukraine are already extinct, 541 species are on the verge of extinction. Only two militia raids on Donetsk flower markets in 1999 resulted in withdrawal of 995 bouquets, or 50 000 flowers registered in the Red Book. In general, the 1999 "Spring Flower Operation" that covered the whole country resulted in withdrawal of 2 574 000 rare flowers. Since the calls for preservation of the environment are not always taken seriously, the State Administration for Environmental Protection warns that spring flower sellers will be liable to a UAH 51-136 ($10-25) fine.
NGOs are also willing to join the "Spring Flowers Operation 2000". The All-Ukrainian Environmental League, for instance, distributed book on the importance of preservation of rare spring flowers among students of 26 schools in Kyiv. Similar actions are taking place in other regions of Ukraine. The All-Ukrainian Environmental League is also planning to organise an art competition "Draw a Flower for Your Beloved", as well as costumed demonstrations, meetings and street shows devoted to preservation of rare spring flowers.
Different from the previous years, majority of the flowers picked are staying Kiev. In Moscow, due to the active work of Student Druzhina for Nature Protection Movement, the number of flowers sold is constantly decreasing. This is the result of previous years actions, which included inspection of the common selling places, inspection of the trains coming to Moscow stations from the areas where the snowdrops grow, an heavy informational campaign.
Marina Doctorova, Druzhina Movement
APSABARA - IN ABKHAZIAN - NATURE
After the war of 1991-1992 an economical, political and informational blockade of Republic Abkhazia, Georgia was established. This blockade provoked conditions of isolation from all over the world for the population of Republic. However many NGOs are actively working in these severe conditions.
There are around 37 NGOs in the Republic. They are working on human rights, the environment, conflictology, social and psychology rehabilitation of kids and handicapped people, problems caused by the consequences of war and other fields. Their activity is very complicated because of the difficult postwar and blockade conditions in the Republic. The postal service does not work, telephone connection is unstable, there is no Internet access. Abkhazian NGOs do not have access to most financial support because they are acting in a separated country, which does not exist on the political map. Moreover, Abkhazians have a seriously limited possibility to cross the blockaded borders of their Republic, it is limited for citizens of other countries too. The fact of th NGOs existence is amazing in itself. Moreover, their activity is pretty high, part of the activity covers even governmental structures, which at the moment cann't fulfill all of it's function. This makes the role of NGOs really significant.
To help Abkazian NGOs Abkhazian regional Centre for Co-ordination and Information (ARCIC) of Socio-ecological union (SEU) on the base and by initiative of abkhazian NGOs "Apsabara" and "Complete Shalom Apsny" was established in 1999.
In this issue we present you one of leading environmental NGO from Abkhazia Ecological Society "Apsabara".
Ecological Society "Apsabara" was created by a group of students-biologists and lecturers of the Abkhaz State University in 1992, during the war. At first, name of the organization was "Atiras" (fern). It's primary task was to collect information on ecological war consequences and demonstrate that the war takes not only human lives but also causes a lot of damages to the environment. Activists collected and worked up a lot of information about the war influence on animal migrations, disappearing of one and appearing of another animal settlements, film and photo-documents.
After the war a lot of new members joined the group, that gave the opportunity to enlarge spheres of activities. In 1994 it was decided to register a non-governmental organization - Ecological society "Apsabara". Aim of the organization was to preserve the unique nature heritage of Abkhazia, disseminate objective information about condition of the environment and ways of the resolving of the serious ecological problems, involve all levels of the population into the process of discussions and decision making.
During the post-conflict period "Apsabara" focused on learning, preserving and restoring the environment damaged during military actions. Society pays sufficient attention to the analyses of post-war realities in the sphere of using natural resources, identification of the strategy of the stable development in Abkhazia, searching and realization of the different forms of the ecological education among children and teenagers of Abkhazia.
There are 68 members of "Apsabara", another 400 people are involved in the "Apsabara" projects. Among members of the ecological Society there are specialists with high degrees, masters of chemistry, radiochemistry, biology, biogeography, geology, oceanology, also teachers, journalists, and historians.
The Ecological Society cooperates with local and international organizations: Center for Humanitarian Programs (Abkhazia), Civic Initiative and People of the Future Foundation (Abkhazia), Rehabilitation Center "Association of Spinal Disabled " (Abkhazia), the Youth House "Abrskil" (Abkhazia), Green Scouts (Abkhazia), International Alert, UNV, Caucasus Links, BSEP, Department of the social ecology (State California University).
"Apsabara" successfully finished some of the projects and continuos to work on another projects we want you to introduce with.
"Nature - is me" - the competition of the children's pictures. Pupils from the most of Abkhaz schools took part in the project. A few pictures were send by children from Chechnya. 1000 works (pictures and banners) were presented at the competition, some of them were made on the scraps of paper. The competition was directed not only to the forming of ecological consciousness, considerate attitude to the nature but also to overcome psychological stress got during the war. The best works were used in the creation of ecological banners and calendars. The event got a great resonance - after the event this project was implemented by other organizations in a smaller scale but different forms. The project was financed by international organization UNV (United Nation Volunteers).
In 1997 the "Apsabara" society created ecological children's group "Adzikurkur" (translated from Abkhaz - freshwater crayfish) on the basis of school N10 in Sukhum. Participants of the children's group initiated cleaning of river Sukhumka. They named the project "From clean Sukhumka to the clean Sea". Children clean the river-bed of Sukhumka, regularly sound the level and expenditure of water, make tests, learn methodology of chemical and bacteriological analysis in the laboratory of the Abkhaz State Center of Ecological Monitoring and actively help "Apsabara" in it's activity.
In 1998-99 activists of the society participated in implementation of a project "Ecological Monitoring of the Black Sea waters in the aquatory of Abkhazia ". It was financed by the State Ecological Foundation of the Republic of Abkhazia.
From the summer 1998 "Apsabara" works on creating school forestry "Amza" (pain-tree) in Pitsunda and Pitsunda pine nursery garden. The project is implementing jointly with the State Ecological Inspection of Abkhazia and on the basis of school N1 in Pitsunda. In the nursery garden created on the basis of forestry of Pitsunda-Miussera reserve schoolchildren cultivate young plants, make experiments and researches. Parallel with this work children maintain environment protection activity and actions on the territory of the reserve apart and jointly with "Apsabara". School forestry created a patrol "Green Patrol". The patrol takes part in the actions preserving the reserve. They organize as their own raids so joint raids with "Apsabara". On the reserve territory schoolchildren from "Amza" organized "Ecological Path" illustrated with information placates, stations with observation sites. Children are going to use this "Ecological Path" as a place for excursions. In May 2000, at the exhibition-conference children will share the results of their activity. They will present their research works, collections, photo and video materials.
In October 1999 "Apsabara" jointly with Tkuarchal department of the State Ecological Inspection created ecological club in Tkuarchal on the basis of schools N1 and 4. Lectures introducing schoolchildren with the flora of Tkuarchal region with element of environment protection were held in the club. They also implement walking research trips. Environment protecting patrols were also organized. The aim of the patrols were to identify sources of the Galidzga river pollution, clean the river-bed, make tests and identify bacteriological water pollution. Children select young plants for park zone in the town for spring 2000.
Since March 1999 Ecological society "Apsabara" jointly with the administration of Gulripsh village are implementing a project on protecting and restoring the historical and cultural park plantations in Gulripsh and Agudzera villages. Today, condition of the plantations is worrying because of the general agricultural postwar destruction. An obstacle for preserving and running of the unique arboretum named by N.N. Smirnitsky is lack of funding. The arboretum was created in 1892 and it's plan was developed by the famous Italian landscape architecture. That time the park was considered as the biggest park in Europe by the area and diversity of plantations: 80 species of eucalyptus, 50 species of palm-tree, more than 50 species of camellia, more than 30-species of conifers, a lot of agave and the unique collection of cactuses. Team of young environment protectors was created in the framework of the project. It was organized on the basis of Gulripsh school. Children transplant species lost during previous years, take care of the park and clean it's territory from "everyday" trash.
For the International Black Sea Day (31 October 1999) "Apsabara", State Inspection of small size vessels, art group "Neptune" and State Ecological Inspection of the Republic of Abkhazia organized an action of cleaning the seashore from "everyday" trash. Population of Tkuarchal, Ochamchira, Sukhum, Gudauta and Gagra region took part in the action.
The Ecological society "Apsabara" is open for cooperation in the all spheres close to environment protection and searching of ways of stable society development.
Simon Kvitsinia, Ecological Society "Apsabara"
email@example.com (for apsabara)
"GREEN WORLD" RECEIVED "THE BALTIC SEA PRIZE"
The SEU member, environmental organization "Green World" from Sosnovy Bor was awarded "The Baltic Sea Prize" for broadscale environmental work.
"Green World" was founded on 2 August 1988 as an environmental association in Sosnovy Bor city located at the South coast of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km to the West from St.Petersburg, Russia.
Dissemination of information on environmental and social problems of the Baltic Region;
Protection of the Baltic Sea marine ecosystem, the nature reserves at the coasts of the Gulf of Finland;
Involving the residents and authorities of the region in activity for nature protection;
Development of co-operation in conservation of nature.Main Objects Monitored by GW:
The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in Sosnovy Bor. Its four RMBK-1000 Chernobyl-type reactors operate since 1981. Dangerous plans exist to build more reactors for MOX fuel.
The storage of waste nuclear fuel in Sosnovy Bor. It is located 90 metres from the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Overloaded by 130% of its design capacity.
Swans Natural Reserve to the East from Sosnovy Bor. Construction of an oil terminal is planned within its area protected by the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Green World Baltic News, an electronic newsletter of current and "hot" environmental news of the Baltic region (in Russian and English).
Oleg Bodrov, "Green World"
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