The Social-Ecological Union appeals to Yeltsin

Publish date: April 20, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The prominent Russian umbrella NGO, the Social-Ecological Union, appealed to the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, urging him to stop the criminal prosecution of Aleksandr Nikitin, Nikolay Schur and Grigoriy Pasko. All three are being persecuted by the Russian authorities for working on issues of environmental protection.

In its letter, signed among others by Alexey Yablokov, the former environmental advisor to Boris Yeltsin, the Socio-Ecological Union asks the President of the Russian Federation to make use of his constitutional right to end the groundless persecution of citizens for collecting and making public information on radioactive contamination caused by the Russian military complex.

The letter states that the prosecution of Aleksandr Nikitin, Nikolay Schur and Grigoriy Pasko is a violation of the Russian Constitution, which grants citizens the right to information on environmental conditions, especially in connection with hazards to life and health.

Aleksandr Nikitin was arrested by Russia’s security police (FSB) on February 6, 1996. He was charged with espionage and the divulging of state secrets for his contribution to the Bellona report "The Russian Northern Fleet – Sources of Radioactive Contamination". In December 1996, Nikitin was released from custody. Since then he has been under city arrest in St. Petersburg. His case is still pending.

In 1994, Nikolay Schur, the leader of Snezhinsk State Environmental Fund, located in Chelyabinsk county (Mayak reprocessing plant) was charged with misuse of state funds and sent to custodial confinement. He spent several months in jail. The misused funds amounted to $17. The case was a pure persecution of a person who revealed information on the radioactive contamination around Mayak reprocessing plant.

Grigoriy Pasko, captain of the second rank, reporter in the Pacific Fleet newspaper, was arrested and charged with espionage in Vladivostok in November 1997. Pasko had reported on illegal mishandling of radwaste in the Pacific Fleet.

"We urge you to make sure that the Constitution and laws are strictly followed, and to defend the environmentalists and people working with issues of environmental protection from the persecution of FSB and Ministry of Defence", – the Socio-Ecological Union urges President Yeltsin in its letter.