Twelve Years Ago Today

“Let’s clear the forest of the fascist occupation, 1941-2010.” 28 July 2010, Khimki. Photo courtesy of Antifa FM

It’s the 12th anniversary of the antifa protest in Khimki

Antifa.ru and other channels have recalled the historical date of 28 July 2010, when, at the height of its popularity, the antifa movement in Moscow was involved in solving social issues.

Throughout 2010, progressive Muscovites were extremely agitated about the planned construction of an alternate to the Leningrad Highway through the Khimki Forest in the nearest part of the Moscow Region. A lot of money was riding on the project, but responsibility for fighting the protesters was entrusted to the local Khimki authorities. Judging by their tactics, they were probably quite criminalized.

For antifa, the line was crossed when right-wing football hooligans — neo-Nazis, in other words — were involved in dispersing a tent camp set up in the forest by the protesters.

In late July, a secret concert by the bands Inspection Line and Moscow Death Brigade, popular among the antifa crowd, was advertised on social media. On July 28, Inspection Line vocalist and writer Petya Kosovo famously said to those who had come to the rendezvous point, “I hope there are no rubes here who think they just came to a concert? We’re going to Khimki!”

Several hundred young people exploded: they went to Khimki “to protect the Russian forest from Nazi occupation.”

Upon arriving in Khimki, right at the train station, they asked where city hall was, and the locals happily showed them the way. The protesters immediately produced masks and a banner about the Russian forest, and the crowd of about 400 people headed to the hated city hall, cheerfully chanting as they marched. On a video that circulated at the time, you can clearly see a police jeep fleeing from the determined young people.

It was the weekend, so the protesters were not able to talk with the local administration. The protesters decorated city hall with protest graffiti and shots from trauma pistols. They actually did very little damage to the building.

But this incident was followed by a shellacking. Only not the mythical shellacking of the Khimki City Hall, but the real shellacking of the antifa movement by the so-called law enforcement agencies.

Police raids took place all over central Russia — in Nizhny Novgorod, in Kostroma (where a whole punk-hardcore festival on a riverboat was arrested), not to mention Moscow and the Moscow Region. Hundreds of people were detained and beaten; hundreds fled Russia. Some left forever, while others returned after a year or two. But their spirit wasn’t the same when they came home: they hunkered down. And the movement — that big and formidable movement that had caused a stir in 2010, the movement that had protected workers and refugees from being illegally evicted from dorms and had defended the Khimki Forest — that movement no longer existed. The gloomy era of Bolotnaya Square and the constant stomping of protests, the era of crackdowns, was coming.

[…]

Source: Volja (Telegram), 28 July 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


Vitaly Shushkevich: “Several hundred antifa and anarchists smashed [sic] the facade of Khimki city hall.
The activists demanded an end to the logging currently underway in the Khimki Forest.” Posted on 28 July 2010.

Kronotsky Nature Reserve Employees Sentenced to Long Prison Terms

The Uzon caldera in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve: Photo: Igor Shpilenok/Kronotsky Nature Reserve

Greenpeace Russia strongly disagrees with the charges against the nature reserve employees.

On July 15, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk City Court found employees of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve guilty of embezzlement in the amount of [454] million rubles [approx. 7.9 million euros]. The money had been allocated from the federal budget to eliminate accumulated environmental damage.

Darya Panicheva, head of the reserve’s scientific department, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison. The court sentenced Roman Korchigin, deputy director for science and educational tourism, to five years in prison. Oksana Terekhova, deputy director for financial and legal support, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison. Nikolai Pozdnyakov, a former employee of the reserve, was also convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. All of them were taken into police custody in the courtroom.

The court also sentenced all the convicted persons to compensate in full the financial damage indicated in the charges and to pay large fines.

None of the reserve employees of the reserve has admitted any wrongdoing. The defense will petition a higher court to review the verdict, seeking to have the charges completely dropped and obtain an acquittal.

The director of the Kronotsky Reserve, Pyotr Shpilenok, commented on the court’s decision.

“I’m in shock,” he said. “Innocent employees have been taken into custody for doing their official duties. We will continue to fight on their behalf — otherwise we wouldn’t know how to go on living and working. There is now only one recourse for us — to go to higher courts and seek the complete dismissal of charges against them. In addition, the reserve is now literally in a state of emergency: it won’t be able to function as before without these key employees. The specialists sent to prison were responsible for the most important areas of work: science, tourism, and economic support. Kronotsky will now have to urgently make some difficult decisions to keep nature protected.”

The Kronotsky Reserve employees were charged with embezzling over 454 million rubles from the federal budget and being involved in an organized criminal group. The money was earmarked for and spent on cleaning up the reserve and eliminating accumulated environmental damage. The Investigative Committee, however, believes that this money was stolen. On June 27, the prosecution requested that the court sentence the accused reserve employees to six to eight years of imprisonment, multimillion-ruble fines, and overall damages of 454.6 million rubles.

The charges caused a massive public outcry, and the trial came to be called the “Clean-Up Case.” The team at the Kronotsky Reserve publicly posted materials that testify to the innocence of the reserve’s employees: paperwork, photos and video footage, witness statements, and official findings by scientific institutions, Rosprirodnadzor, and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. They clearly show that there are many discrepancies in the case.

“The Clean-Up Case,” a 21-minute exploration of the case by persons unknown, posted on YouTube on 23 June 2022.
The video is in Russian, without subtitles in other languages.

“I personally know the accused reserve employees and can confirm that they are some of the best and most dedicated specialists in the reserve system,” says Mikhail Kreindlin, project manager for specially protected natural areas at Greenpeace Russia. “Basically, the employees are accused of conscientiously and competently performing their work in assessing the damage caused to the reserve earlier, while the investigation is trying to prove the existence of an organized criminal group by pointing to the organizational structure of the institution that manages the reserve.”

Greenpeace Russia considers the sentence imposed on the employees of the Kronotsky Reserve unfair. Over years of cooperation, the reserve employees have proven themselves to be exceptionally honest and professional people, dedicated to their work.

Source: Greenpeace Russia, “Kronotsky Nature Reserve Employees Sentenced to Up to 5 1/2 Years in Prison,” 15 July 2022. Thanks to Darya Apahonchich for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

There Will Be No Irina Slavina Square in Nizhny Novgorod

Irina Slavina

The Nizhny Novgorod authorities have refused to memorialize journalist Irina Slavina, who committed self-immolation on October 2, 2020, blaming the Russian state for her death. The journalist’s death was preceded by a search at her house as part of a criminal investigation into local businessman Mikhail Iosilevich, who was charged with “[carrying out the work of] an undesirable organization” (per Article 284.1 of the Criminal Code). In 2019, Slavina was sentenced to pay a fine of 70 thousand rubles for “involvement in the work of an undesirable organization.”

After Slavina’s death, human rights activists attempted to get the Investigative Committee to launch a criminal investigation of possible “incitement to suicide,” but the Committee turned them down on three occasions. The first time it argued that the journalist had suffered, possibly, from a “mixed personality disorder,” while the second time the Committee ruled that the suicide was the result of “emotional turmoil and a conscious wish to die.”

One of the projects undertaken by Irina Slavina, editor-in-chief of the independent Nizhny Novgorod publication Koza Press and a grassroots activist, was the rescue in 2015-2018 of a green zone near her house where the city authorities had decided to build a shopping center. The developer cut down dozens of trees, but the construction itself was stopped through the efforts of grassroots activists.

After Slavina’s self-immolation, Nizhny Novgorod residents began bringing flowers to the place of her death every Friday. Friends of the journalist planted flowers and seedlings in a small park near her house, dubbing the site “Slavina Square.”

Инициативная группа со созданию сквера имени Ирины Славиной
Irina Slavina Square pressure group

At the same time, activists gathered signatures on a petition asking that the place Slavina had fought to save from redevelopment officially bear her name. The greenery in the square was also restored by the heads of the city’s Nizhegorodsky district. But these officials did not support the idea to naming the square after the journalist. They decided instead to name it in honor of the local architect Vadim Voronkov.

One of the initiators of the idea of naming the square after Irina Slavina was the Dront Ecological Center, whose employees petitioned the mayor’s office. But the authorities turned the request down, explaining that Slavina was not “an outstanding statesman and public figure or a spokesperson for science, culture, art and other public spheres who deserved broad recognition for her work.”

Local media recall that Nizhny Novgorod regional governor Gleb Nikitin had once presented Slavina with an official certificate of gratitude for her professional journalistic work and personal service and had earlier promised that he would make every effort “to ensure that the investigation of the circumstances that led to the tragedy is supervised at the highest level.”

Дочь Ирины Славиной Маргарита
Irina Slavina’s daughter Margarita, holding a placard that reads, “While my mom was burning alive, you were silent.”

In April of this year, Dront began collecting signatures from ordinary Nizhny Novgorod residents who would like to see a Slavina Square in the city. The petition drive is still ongoing, but officials have already made their decision.

According to the newspaper Kommersant-Privolzhye, new trees were planted in the square a few days ago. The daughter of architect Vadim Voronkov, who was employed as the city’s chief architect for twenty years [in Soviet times, when it was still the closed city of Gorky], took part in the planting ceremony, which was organized by the Nizhny Novgorod State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Alexei Fomenko, an activist with the project 42 — I Have the Right, called this decision by the authorities “a special operation on Slavina Boulevard.”

“For several decades, no one cared about the boulevard or the architect Voronkov. At one time, it was even decided to build the boulevard over. But then, suddenly, there is a ceremony, tree planting, and children. The mayor’s office and the deputies of the City Duma, realizing that we would not back down, and having no desire, on the one hand, to get a kick in the butt from their superiors, and on the other, getting their mugs dirty yet again, decided to resort to the good old ruse of round up some public employees, holding the necessary event hugger-mugger, and formalizing everything properly,” says Fomenko.

The plan of the authorities has not been welcomed on social media. Irina Slavina’s husband Alexei Murakhtayev was categorical in his condemnation.

“The authorities are once again doing something stupid. I do not know who the architect Voronkov was and what he has to do with this square. There must be some kind of cause and effect relationship! There is no cause, however, but the effect will be people’s discontent,” the deceased journalist’s husband argues.

The Nizhny Novgorod authorities explained their refusal to memorialize Slavina by claiming that her work “did not deserve broad recognition.” Vladimir Iordan, a friend of the journalist and a lecturer at the Nizhny Novgorod Theater School, does not agree with their appraisal.

“I have never met a more outstanding public figure capable of sacrificing their life for the sake of the ideals of justice, a more implacable campaigner against corruption and totalitarianism, a more honest and caring person. Slavina’s articles disciplined officials and deputies, and they exposed embezzlers. Governor Nikitin, when it was advantageous to him, liked to underscore that he reacted to all of Ira’s articles and requests. But Slavina was more than just a journalist — she was a real public figure in the original sense of the phrase. She was a driving force in many grassroots campaigns — against the lawlessness of tow truck operators, against the punitive beautification of parks and squares, against the redevelopment of Nizhny Novgorod’s historic center. She was a sensitive person who completely rejected injustice, lies, and hypocrisy,” says Iordan.

German Knyazev, an entrepreneur, public figure, and friend of Slavina, is sure that Slavina will not be memorialized under the current political regime.

“I think her main achievement was doing independent journalism in a totalitarian state, and my prediction is that this totalitarian state will never name a square after her,” Knyazev argues.

Meanwhile, the Iosilevich case, responsible for the humiliating search took place at Slavina’s home the day before her death, continues. Entrepreneur and activist Mikhail Iosilevich is on trial, accused of collaborating with Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia and threatening a witness. Despite the flimsy evidence, the prosecutor has requested four and half years in a minimum security prison camp for Iosilevich. On the eve of his trial he tried to leave Russia using an Israeli passport. The attempt was unsuccessful: Iosilevich was removed from a plane bound for Tel Aviv. According to the activist, his departure would have been the “ideal option” for all parties in the trial. “But no it is then! We will go on with the oral arguments, the rebuttals, the final statement . . . and the conviction of an innocent man,” Iosilevich wrote in a telegram.

Immediately after Slavina’s self-immolation, the Nizhny Novgorod regional prosecutor’s office ruled that the search in her apartment had been lawful. The search was part of the investigation into Iosilevich, which was prompted by his alleged cooperation with Open Russia. It is still not clear what form this “cooperation” took, however.

“Today, at 6:00 a.m., 12 people entered my apartment using a blowtorch and a crowbar: Russian Investigative Committee officers, police, SWAT officers, [official] witnesses. My husband opened the door. I, being naked, got dressed under the supervision of a woman I didn’t know. A search was carried out. We were not allowed to call a lawyer. They were looking for pamphlets, leaflets, Open Russia accounts, perhaps an icon with the face of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. I don’t have any of these things,” Slavina wrote [on Facebook that day].

The next day, Slavina burned herself outside the Interior Ministry headquarters in Nizhny Novgorod. She left a suicide note on Facebook: “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death.”

Source: Alexander Lugov, Radio Svoboda, 12 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader

Money Talks

Screenshot of the Russian Fossil Fuels Tracker made at 6:14 a.m. GMT on 15 March 2022

 

Statement on the Invasion of Ukraine

Members of the Europe Beyond Coal campaign stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and condemn Vladimir Putin’s unconscionable war.

This attack by the Russian leadership is leading to a devastating loss of lives, and a humanitarian and refugee crisis in Ukraine. The Russian government is threatening peace and safety for all Europeans and beyond, and has proven that it fundamentally stands in opposition to everyone who values peace, civil cooperation, and social democratic ideals. Its actions must be firmly, resolutely, and permanently rejected.

The fingerprints of coal, gas, and oil are all over this invasion. We are literally funding the war through our continued burning of fossil fuels imported from Russia. It is therefore the moral duty of European political and business leaders to make every effort to urgently end Russian, and all fossil fuel dependence in our economies. Transitioning our energy systems to be more efficient and based completely on renewable sources is an overriding priority.

With the IPCC’s dire update of climate science coming the same week, there can be no more half measures. This is the moment for brave decisions on energy. We can allow no more citizens to be shelled because of fossil fuels, nor any person to face a dangerous and uncertain future due to inadequate action on climate change.

Renewable power and energy savings promote peace. Sanctions and severing ties to the Kremlin’s fossil-fuel economy, coupled with emergency plans to mobilise extraordinary budgets and policy measures to rapidly insulate, heat, repower, and further interconnect EU member states, as well as neighbouring European countries, will help Ukraine by cutting money flows to Putin’s regime, while building energy security and resiliency for all European citizens – including Ukraine.

Every heat pump, every lowered highway speed limit, every new LED street lamp and insulated house, every solar panel and wind turbine, every bicycle ride replacing a trip with a car, every reduced train fare protects citizens from high energy costs and gas shocks in the near term, while promoting peace for Europe and globally.

Europe is united against Russian government aggression – as are many Russian citizens. The best way for us all to stop empowering warmongers like Putin is to work together to end fossil fuel use completely.

Source: Europe Beyond Coal. Thanks to Activatica for the heads-up. ||| TRR

Slipping and Falling in Saint Petersburg

Imagine if this pavement were part of your daily walk between home and work, home and school, or home and the shops. Amazing as it might seem, this street on the edge of downtown Petersburg sees extremely heavy pedestrian traffic every day.

Yesterday, I slipped and fell while taking my recycling to the city’s only permanent recyclables collection point, situated in the parking lot of a hypermarket where I buy staples like tea and rice. The collection point and the hypermarket are three blocks from where these pictures were shot.

Fortunately, I’m still young and fit enough that the fall, which was hard and sudden, left me intact. Plus, in my youth, I had been taught how to fall in my tae-kwon-do classes. I feel fine today.

But Petersburg is chockablock with pensioners whom no one looks after. They have to go out into this mess to pay their bills and buy groceries and medicines, for example.

Do none of them fall and break their hips and legs in such conditions? They do — by the dozens and hundreds and thousands every winter.

I gather they pray for snowless winters, like their coeval my mom, who has spent her entire life dealing with southern Minnesota’s cold, snowy, windy winters. ||| TRR, 20 February 2018

Threatened Cranes of Far Eastern Russia

Building on the work of Sergei and Elena Smirenski, Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use was established in 1994 through a collaboration between the International Socio-Ecological Union, the International Crane Foundation, and Pop Group Co., Ltd. A year later this land and adjacent areas were added to the list of wetlands of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. Muraviovka Park boasts over 700 species of vascular plants and over 300 species of birds, including six species of cranes. It is a critically important area for White-naped, Red-crowned and Hooded Cranes, Oriental White Stork, Yellow-breasted Bunting and other avian species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. The park’s activities include monitoring numbers of wild cranes, managing a captive breeding program of endangered cranes to release the cranes into the wild. The park works to prevents forest fires, conducts reforestation, organizes annual international summer camps at Muraviovka Park and in other parts of the Amur River Basin, including China, hosts tourists, and organizes festivals. The 16,000 acres on which this park sits is leased to the park through 2058. Sergei and Elena will update us on the park and its inhabitants.

Presented by the Kirtland Bird Club. To register, head HERE.

Thanks to the Monterey Audubon Society for the heads-up. ||| TRR

The Crows of Saint Petersburg

“Crows threw out the lid from the pot. If someone picked it up, please return it. Apartment 23.” Photo by Vadim Yaskevich, courtesy of the Five Corners community Facebook page

Biologist explains why crows in Petersburg have begun screaming heart-rendingly
Saint Petersburg TV
May 30, 2021

Petersburg residents have complained about the heart-rending cries of crows. Residents of 4th Soviet Street said on social media that the birds were screaming from morning till evening. “It’s like we live in a cemetery, it’s impossible,” the citizens wrote.

Biologist Pavel Glazkov told Nevsky News what has happened to the birds of prey. According to him, it’s all about new offspring. “While they were hatching their eggs and feeding the chicks in their nests, they could not be seen or heard. Now the chicks will be reared by their parents outside the nest for about one to two weeks. Of course, due to the offspring, the number of crows in the city has increased visually,” the biologist noted.

He warned that crows may attack animals and people during this period. If the birds become aggressive, it means that their offspring are not far away in the bushes or grass. The safest option is simply to give such places wide berth.

Earlier, in an on-air interview with Saint Petersburg TV, Glazkov said that seven species of bats inhabit Petersburg, and all of them are listed in the Red Book. According to the expert, the bats have long ago adapted to the city. They sleep in attics, under balconies and in the crevices of old trees. At the same time, the bats are not aggressive and do not specifically attack humans.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Thanks, Rashid

Rashid Alimov

Thanks, Rashid: How We Remember Rashid Alimov
Greenpeace Russia
December 18, 2020

Violetta Ryabko, head of Greenpeace Russia’s media department
“Better not open the refrigerator: I brought back radioactive mushrooms from Bryansk Region for analysis!” Rashid once said. I remember how, at the office, I had voiced my desire to go picking mushrooms, and Rashid replied, “Brilliant! We need to make a map of where the radioactive mushrooms near Petersburg are, and where it is better not to pick them.”

Rashid had so much energy and desire to solve the environmental problems he was dealing with. He could spend days and nights reading thousands of pages of reports to find the truth, as he did with the 2017 ruthenium leak, whose cause was revealed to the world by Rashid. He knew how not to give into despair and write about each new attempt to import uranium tailings into Russia. He was attentive to every detail, word, and comma in the materials that we prepared. We wrote a lot of releases together, fought against the construction of a waste incinerator, and issued a brochure that is still used by activists all over the country. It was never just a job. We supported each other, made each other laugh, and figured out how not to burn out and maintain our enthusiasm, even when things didn’t work out.

I remember how once Rashid was trying to obtain a official report from yet another Russian ministry. (I forgot which one, and there is no one else to ask.) His latest request was sent back with something like the following runaround from a ministry secretary: “Lyudmila Petrovna would be very dissatisfied were these data published.” Rashid said that he had no idea who Lyudmila Petrovna was, and could not understand why the data that the ministry was required to send by law had not been provided. He then looked at me enigmatically and asked, “What’s your middle name?” He dashed off the following email: “Violetta Vladimirovna is extremely concerned that the documents have not been sent on time and promises to take immediate action.” We had the documents the next day.

Rashid was a very principled man and a consistent opponent of nuclear energy. I knew that I would always find the answer to any question by asking him. This year alone, he made several hundred comments to media outlets that were not afraid to cover the problems with construction of the Northeast Expressway in Moscow and the importation of uranium tailings for storage in Russia.

But not everyone was so honest. I remember receiving a message from him: “Guess who might be the subject of article entitled ‘A Story of Ordinary Fascism’?” It was a disgraceful, slanderous article about Rashid on the website of pseudo-environmentalists. Later, television presenter Vladimir Solovyov took to the air to say that, while he had been unable to find any compromising material on Rashid, he had learned that Rashid had graduated from the faculty of Oriental studies at Petersburg State University. Rashid really did speak several languages perfectly, which only aided him in becoming a brilliant expert and doing research in a variety of languages.

I remember how I was angry at Rashid for something stupid and wrote a message about it to a colleague, but ultimately I accidentally sent it to Rashid himself. He read it and thanked me. I was so ashamed and amused, and later we would remember this story and laugh. He was such a wonderful, intelligent man. I don’t believe I’m writing about him in the past tense.

Alexei Kiselyov, head of Greenpeace Russia’s toxic waste program
I would start with the fact that Rashid is the person whom we have to thank for the fact that garbage is not burned in Petersburg. He also made sure that public hearings on the proposed incineration plant in Petersburg were canceled, the investor bailed, and the governor rejected the project.

Rashid Alimov (center, standing) at public hearings on the proposed construction of a solid waste incineration plant in St. Petersburg

It was Rashid who wrote the pamphlet “What to Do with the Garbage in Russia,” which is still used by thousands of activists around the country.

Rashid was one of the few people for whom the tragedy of the village of Muslyumovo was personal and who always tried to help them. As well as the city of Novozybkov in Bryansk Region, which suffered from the Chernobyl accident. It’s very hard to believe that he is gone.

Kostya Fomin, media coordinator at OVD Info, former media coordinator at Greenpeace Russia
Rashid was the person with whom I seemingly found it easiest to get along at Greenpeace. At first glance, he was calm, intelligent, and even quiet, but he was terribly in love with his work, purposeful, and assertive. He was never an anti-nuclear fanatic. On the contrary, he always advocated careful, sensitive language. But he was a staunch opponent of dangerous technologies that had misfired many times, ruined people’s lives, and poisoned everything in sight for many years to come. He was a genuine old-school Greenpeace activist.

He was irrepressible in a good way and took on seemingly doomed cases. Not always, but not so rarely, either, he got good results, and I am very glad that I was able be with him at those moments and help in any way I could. I remember how he told me about Petersburg poets and revolutionaries as we walked along the embankment, and boatloads of Greenpeace activists sailed toward a floating nuclear power plant: in the end we made sure that its reactors were not activated in Petersburg, a city of five million people. I remember how a guard at a hospital in Arkhangelsk tried to detain us as we measured the background radiation in the yard, where bags of corpses had been piled after the incident in Nenoksa. I remember how we drew a bucket of water from the radioactive Techa River, in Chelyabinsk Region, to prove that people from the surrounding villages were still in danger. I remember how we spent all day and half the night negotiating a press release reporting that Roshydromet recognized that ten of its weather stations had recorded extreme levels of ruthenium in the atmosphere, and in the morning at the airport, I heard our words repeated on REN TV.

Yesterday, Facebook reminded me that exactly a year ago, Rashid and I had been together too. Activists opposed to the import of uranium tailings to Russia set up barrels marked with radiation danger signs outside Gostiny Dvor, in downtown Petersburg, and Rashid had stood next to them holding a poster. No one was detained, and we celebrated the successful protest at a bar. But when Rashid went home, he telephoned to say that a whole squad of police had caught up with him at the front door of his house. Why the front door? Because they had tried to trick their way into his house, but Rashid’s daughter wouldn’t let them in, and the whole ridiculous “tactical team” had to freeze to death. My friends and I thought that Rashid had raised his daughter well. We’ll all miss you.

Rashid Alimov protesting the importat of radioactive waste from Germany, outside Gostiny Dvor in Petersburg, on December 17, 2029

Vladimir Chuprov, project director, Greenpeace Russia
I spent a long time forcing myself to start writing these lines. I couldn’t even imagine that I would have to do this. I don’t want to say anything trivial: Rashid, of course, deserves more. Such blows make you stop and think about how fleeting life is, and how important it is to appreciate each other here and now, in this life. Rashid knew how to do it. With a kind of incomprehensible oriental inner contemplation, he would calmly accept the most unpleasant news and difficult tasks. He would shrug, hunch his shoulders more than usual, and start listening. Being able to hear means being able to hear life, to halt its quiet elusive moments, even if they are compressed in a telephone receiver’s silence.

Reproaches and complaints to others were all things that Rashid somehow knew how to avoid. Or they bypassed him. Sometimes, I would get mad at something or someone, then I would look at how Rashid reacted to it, and realize that it was all a passing trifle. The nuclear power issue has always been difficult and in many ways thankless, since it is almost impossible to help people affected by radiation: the forces are too unequal, and the inhuman system that Rashid struggled with is too clumsy. But it was Rashid who managed to work calmly in the face of this abyss of grief and powerlessness and give people hope.

I am grateful that I was able to work with Rashid for many years and, most importantly, that I was able to communicate with him in his final days. He conversed with me cheerfully and humorously as always, the way he knew how. It is a pity that Rashid did not live to see what he fought for: a harmonious green world without landfills and smog. May the atheists forgive me when I say this, but although we shall not see Rashid, Rashid will listen to us just as calmly tomorrow and the day after. One day I will tell him how he did it. Just wait, Rashid.

Yevgeny Usov, investigative research and expertise specialist, Greenpeace Russia
Rashid and I first became closely acquainted many years ago while inspecting an illegal landfill in the Kingisepp District, where I filmed an interview with him for television. Then there were trips with him to attend a rally in Pushkin and sample radioactivity in Bryansk Region, expert work for the Presidential Human Rights Council and air quality research in Petersburg, long conversations about various matters and editing international reports.

Calm, reasonable, and interested in many different and surprising subjects—that was Rashid. He did many extremely important things for Russia.

Rashid measured the concentration of solid particles outside the window, the level of radiation in the mushrooms picked by his grandmother, was involved in the blockade of a German train, loaded with radioactive waste, going to Russia, investigated the true size of the country’s mountains of industrial waste, and dug up the truth and helped the truth make its way to people.

Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair, Ecodefense
I met Rashid about fifteen years ago when Ecodefense organized a campaign against the importation of uranium tailings. He was a journalist. In 2007, he joined the campaign and organized protests in Petersburg, where uranium waste was delivered by sea. By 2009, we had managed to stop the import of tailings from Germany, and Rashid made a huge contribution to this victory. Later, we interacted a lot in various campaigns against dangerous nuclear projects.

Rashid was one of the most important people in the Russian anti-nuclear movement. An uncompromising activist, he always adhered to the principle of protecting the public interest come what may. Last year and this year, we corroborated a lot as part of a new campaign against the import of uranium tailings from Germany: we organized a number of protests in Russia and Germany, and, in the end, Germany decided to temporarily suspend this activity. I am certain that Ecodefense and other organizations that were involved in the campaign will continue to fight if the imports are resumed—not only for the sake of preventing harm, but also in memory of Rashid. He would have liked that.

Rashid’s family, as well as the environmental movement in Russia, have suffered an irreparable loss. There is no way to compensate for it. We will remember Rashid as a man who made a huge contribution to the fight against dangerous nuclear projects in Russia and other countries, as a great friend and knowledgeable colleague. It is impossible to repair what has happened, but the memory of our beloved friend Rashid will live on, and we will continue to do what we did with him and in his memory.

Elena Sakirko, head of Greenpeace Russia’s energy department
When I became part of the Greenpeace team, Rashid was almost the first person I met. That was when thirty of our colleagues were in the Murmansk pre-trial detention center and a support group was organized in the city. We had to work with lawyers and journalists, and also get letters, food, and clothes (everything they needed) to the detained activists . I was the translator, and Rashid organized the deliveries. Working almost around the clock, we still found time to communicate. Rashid talked about Greenpeace and environmental protection in Russia: it seemed that he knew everything and was acquainted with all the activists and experts.

From the very first day, Rashid radiation so much warmth and attention, so much patience and endurance, that I just wanted to be as brave and calm, as well-versed in environmental issues as him. Another quality of his that saved me was his amazing sense of humor, his ability in the most difficult situations to look deeply and see what mattered the most. And there was his constant willingness to help. The Murmansk period and the case of the so-called Arctic 30 came to an end—all the activists were released and returned to their homes—but the most important thing about Greenpeace for me seems to reside in the calmness, kindness and courage of Rashid, something that put me in touch then with environmental protection.

Then there was my first picket, in which I stood with Rashid on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. There were also collaborations and projects where we did not intersect, but every time I went to Petersburg, I knew exactly who I wanted to see and with whom I could discuss all my difficulties and problems, who could take me on interesting walks in the city and tell me so much. I think people like Rashid just cannot disappear, they have so much energy and goodness that they shared with us—a whole world.

Rashid had his life’s work to do: regardless of the projects he was involved in, the most important thing for him was always radiation safety. I think it’s very important to continue this work.

Environmentalist and Activist Rashid Alimov Has Died
Activatica
December 18, 2020

Rashid Alimov, an environmentalist, anti-nuclear and climate activist, and project manager of Greenpeace Russia’s energy program, died last night. His death was reported to his wife Olga Krivonos by the doctor on duty at the intensive care unit of the hospital in St. Petersburg where Rashid was being treated for complications of the coronavirus.

Exactly a year ago, on December 17, 20198, Rashid Alimov held a protest action entitled “Russia Is Not a Nuclear Dump” on Nevsky Prospekt outside of Gostiny Dvor. Alimov stood with a banner reading “Russia is not a nuclear dump” at the central entrance to the Gostiny Dvor shopping center. Behind him were activists eleven metal barrels painted with the radioactive danger sign and letters forming inscription “Happy New Year.”

Alimov had worked in environmental organizations since 2001. He was the author and editor of numerous publications on environmental issues, including radiation safety. From 2005 to 2011, he led a campaign in Petersburg against the import of depleted uranium hexafluoride into Russia, as well as the construction of new nuclear power plants. He was involved in Below Two Degrees, a bulletin issued by Russian observers at the UN climate talks.

“Rashid was involved in dealing with issues of waste management, air pollution and nuclear energy. He helped close several landfills, and thanks to Rashid’s work, public hearings on a planned trash incinerator in St. Petersburg were canceled and the governor abandoned the project. Rashid wrote a pamphlet, “What to Do with the Garbage in Russia”, which is still used by thousands of activists throughout the country,” Greenpeace Russia wrote in its obituary.

Two pages from What to Do with the Garbage in Russia, a Greenpeace pamphlet written by Rashid Alimov

Alimov was one of the leading experts in Russia on the problems of toxic environmental pollution. He was a very kind, honest and humble man.

Rashid is survived by his wife, parents, daughter, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Photos courtesy of Greenpeace Russia and Activatica. Translated by the Russian Reader

Grassroots

The English term “grassroots” is often used around the world to denote local civic activism.

The documentary film Grassroots explores three landmark environmental struggle—the fight to save the Suna Forest in Karelia, the ongoing work of EcoWatch in Krasnodar Territory, and the fight to save the Khopyor River in Voronezh Region—using them as a springboard for trying to answer the main questions facing environmental activists in our country today.

In the film, we hear the voices of many environmental activists and listen to the opinions of the most experienced of them, including Yevgeny Vitishko, Andrei Rudomakha, Konstantin Rubakhin, Suren Gazaryan, Yevgeniya Chirikova, Tatyana Chestina, and Grigory Kuksin.

Some of these extraordinary activists have been forced into exile, while others have done serious prison time.

What does it cost to defend our forests, parks, and cities? Who is up to the task?

Director: Konstantin Davydkin
Producer: Maria Muskevich
2018, 58 min., Russia; in Russian with no subtitles
Production: Regista Studio / Make a Movie Production Center

Annotation translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Koganzon for encouraging me to watch the movie.

Belarusian Environmentalist Marina Dubina Abducted by Unknown Men in Uniform in Minsk

Marina Dubrina

Marina Dubina, Director of NGO Ekodom, Detained, Unknown Men Used Teargas
Incident took place around 4 p.m. at Korpus Cultural Center in Minsk
Zjaljony partal
October 6, 2020

According to witnesses, unidentified men in uniform with no identifying marks, dragged the executive director of the NGO Ekodom outside, employing a tear gas canister in the process. She was dragged from building no. 6 at the Gorizont factory towards a bus stop before being forced into a Volkswagen passenger vehicle on Kuibyshev Street.

There is no more information at this time, but this article n will be updated.

Earlier, on September 8, persons unknown tried to force their way into Dubina’s house.

Thanks to Sasha Razor for the link. Translated by the Russian Reader