Russian NGOs: Support Nikitin, Fear the Chilling Effect

Publish date: October 22, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russian NGOs are fearing the chilling effect which might follow the Nikitin case.

"In my opinion, the Nikitin case is not a case of an individual person. This is an attack launched against all environmental groups in Russia," says Vladimir Slivyak, Socio-Ecological Union antinuclear campaign co-ordinator in an interview to the Bellona Web. "The whole process, as plotted by the FSB, is aimed at showing off who is the master in this country," adds Slivyak.

"Watch your steps, or you will find yourself in Nikitin’s shoes," this is according to Sergey Sennikov a usual warning from officials when his environmental NGO is conducting a research. Sergey is a co-ordinator of a Murmansk based environmental centre called GAIA. "The officials, following the outdated, but still living traditions are trying to cloak everything in secrecy. That is not a way to the democracy we are trying to build up here in Russia these days," says Sennikov.

"The situation Bellona and Nikitin described in the Northern Fleet report – shows the crisis of the nuclear energy, inability of the responsible officials in Russia to cope with it," says Oleg Bodrov, leader of Sosnovy Bor based Green World Association. Oleg Bodrov has been working closely at revealing safety issues at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant located in Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad County. "Thus, the responsible officials are not very happy when somebody pokes his nose in their area," believes Bodrov.

Oleg Bodrov and Vladimir Slivyak were at a meeting between Russian NGOs and Yevgeny Adamov, Russian nuclear Minister, in earlier October. When the Nikitin case was raised during the talks, Adamov said Nikitin was guilty of transferring military classified information abroad. When confronted with a question of open sources used by Nikitin, Adamov refused to discuss the matter further.

"As we found out later, a group of experts from the Ministry for Atomic Energy, where Adamov is boss, concluded there were no state secrets in the Bellona report," says Slivyak. "So, like in old KGB times, the most serious crime is still to talk about internal problems in public," says Vladimir Slivyak.