Amnesty highlights Nikitin in new campaign

Publish date: December 12, 1999

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

"Investigative proceedings against Aleksandr Nikitin have been blatantly unfair," writes Amnesty International USA in its report presented in connection with their new campaign 'Just Earth'.

‘Just Earth’ is Amnesty International’s program for Human Rights and the Environment. Presented in Washington D.C. this week, the campaign’s report presents ten ‘Danger Zones’, where the need to protect the rights of environmental activists is of particular importance. The Nikitin case and the general crackdown on environmental organisations in Russia is one of the ten cases around the globe highlighted in the report. Amnesty International USA is collaborating with the Sierra Club in the joint campaign to defend environmental defenders.

Both the Sierra Club and Amnesty International have followed the Nikitin case closely since it started. Both sent observers to last years trial against Nikitin and both have been present at the ongoing trial in St. Petersburg. In their joint report, the Nikitin case is described as the most important environmental and human right case in Russia.

Criticises Putin
"The implications of Russia’s efforts to silence environmental and human rights advocates extend beyond the serious environmental threats to the world’s oceans and fisheries. They are litmus tests for the future of political freedom and the rule of law in the new Russia," the report says.


Environmental activists are increasingly becoming targets of official harassment and persecution in Russia. Amnesty International is concerned by the fact that the Russian government actively stifles the freedom of expression for environmentalists working on Russian nuclear and toxic contamination, referring to a statement by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in July of 1999 that he thought the FSB should keep a close watch on environmental organisations, saying they were infiltrated by spies.

Chilling effect
Since the Nikitin case started in 1995, many other Russian environmentalists have faced the trouble-makings of FSB.

"Unfortunately, the violation of Nikitin’s right to free speech can no longer be seen as an isolated case," said Stephen Mills, Director of Sierra Club’s International program, after the environment and human right report was presented.

The report was presented on the international Human Right’s Day, December 9th. You can read the summary of the report on Amnesty International USA’s web site.

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