More media lies about environmentalists

Publish date: December 16, 1999

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

Alexei Klimov, a local environmentalist in the closed city Severodvinsk takes the local newspaper to court. The editor of the newspaper admitted he printed FSB-fabricated lies about Klimov's American friend.

Alexei Klimov, one of the few active environmentalists in the closed city of Severodvinsk, is tired of the lies about him in the local newspaper. Several times in recent years the paper Severny Rabotchy (“Northern Worker”) has printed articles with lies about Klimov’s environmental activities.

Lastly, the newspaper wrote a front-page article about Alexei Klimov’s American friend Joshua Handler. Handler was working for Greenpeace with nuclear safety issues in Russia, and has visited Klimov several times. Severny Rabotchy wrote that Handler was detained in Kaluga outside Moscow when he was collecting secret material for the USA. Handler is an American citizen, staying in Moscow in connection with his studies at the Princeton University.

Further, the newspaper connected Handler with his friend Klimov, implying that Klimov actually had a friend who was spying for the US, and that Klimov was the man who invited Handler to Severodvinsk.

When Klimov called the newspaper, the editor said openly that the newspaper was requested by FSB to print such an article. “And we had to do it in order to maintin good relations with FSB,” the editor continued.

“The only way to stop the newspaper from writing lies about me and the environmental work is to take them to court,” says Klimov.

Severodvinsk is the main centre for shipyards constructing and repairing nuclear powered submarines. Located on the shores of the White Sea, the shipyards have delivered most of the submarines to Russia’s Northern Fleet. The city is still surrounded with secrecy.

“I think the main reason for FSB to initiate such articles just now, is to support the statement by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier this year,” says Alexei Klimov. Putin said to Komsomolskaya Pravda that FSB should keep a close eye on environmental groups, “since they often operate as a cover for western intelligence organs.”

Alexei Klimov has co-operated with Bellona since the early 90ties. After the arrest of Aleksandr Nikitin in February 1996 he was taken in for interrogation by the local FSB. Klimov was also the first person the have a copy of the Bellona report on the Northern Fleet confiscated by FSB.