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(en) Russia, Summary and update of the Radical ecological protest campaign in Perm of Russia - chronology of actions this far

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 19 Aug 2004 09:05:24 +0200 (CEST)


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20th of August protest camp in Perm will close its 7th
week, and is still going strong.
Although few people may stay in camp more than few
days or one week, every day there have been 20-30
participators in the camp. Goal of the protest camp is a
total revoke of criminal program to utilise rocket engines
and their fuel in Perm. Protest camp will last until decisive
victory, or at least until beginning of the September.

Background of the problem

In accordance with international disarmament treaties,
Russia has to build certain amount of factories to
dismantle old missile engines and their fuel, in practice
this is done with American technology and money. Not
that we have anything against disarmament, but this must
be done taking into account health and welfare of local
people, which currently seem to have no any value
whatsoever to military-industrial complex. 3 years ago in
Votkinsk, they failed in an attempt, to build missile
dismantling plant 8 kilometres from a city with 100 000
inhabitants, this time, according to plans, a similar
extremely dangerous object is planned to be located right
into 100 000 inhabitant suburb of a city with more than
one million inhabitants! Officially, no one admits that
project in Perm will replace Votkinsk project, which is
currently freezed. In practice, missiles
planned to be dismantled in Perm are those, which were
planned to be dismantled in Votkinsk. Actually this is
already 3rd round of the fight, Votkinsk factory was
originally planned to be located to Perm, but in late
nineties these plans had to be cancelled due to local
protests!

FGUP Perm Factory Mashinostroitel has been given a
license to be leading company in Russia in field of
dismantling missiles using solid fuel, most importantly
SS-22 "Scalpel" missiles which have flight radius of 10
000 kilometres and each of which may carry 20 nuclear
warheads of 550 kilotons
(46 times Hiroshima bomb). Missiles to be dismantled do
not have nuclear warheads anymore, and although missile
corpuses are also slightly radioactive main problem is the
extremely poisonous fuel they are loaded with. They plan
to build a site inside factory of S.M. Kirov, which currently
both builds and tests engines of strategic missiles.
Mashinostroitel decided to fulfil its task with means of
anti-ecological direct action, considering necessary
permissions and environmental impact
assessments as a waste of time.

American funding, given in the framework of 13-year-old
Lugar-Nunn legislation is very crucial for realisation of the
project. Actually regional powers have already wasted
lions share of the money given 7 years ago already, and
currently social budget has to be shrunken in order to have
project finally realised and not to have Americans asking
to whose pocket this money ended up back then. Money is
channelled through transnational Washington Group
International http://www.wgint.com/). They are a huge
corporation, operating in more than 30 countries with
26000 employers. American Congressman Richard Lugar
himself visited Perm last autumn.

An unofficial environmental impact assessment by NGO's
and scientists was done to one of the 7 objects which are
included to project, a corpus for heat neutralising of solid
waste was examined. Experts from Perm and all over
Russia considered this object extremely dangerous and
appealed
against its construction - however, construction is still
going on. Company claims construction has been halted,
but local people have reported that everything is following
schedule.

Soon after finishing first expertise, officials realised that
doing bogus environmental impact assessments would be
a better alternative than giving ecologists free hands to do
their expertises.
So in April, ecologists learned that a more important part
of the project, store of missiles waiting to be dismantled
was made and environmental impact assessment with
conclusions to give green light for the construction. This
expertise was done in Moscow, by specialists who were
less qualified than those who did the first one. After big
difficulties, ecologists managed to receive documentation
of the latter "expertise", and countless mistakes make it
illegal and invalid. This "assessment" did not even
included analyse on possible risks to surrounding
environment, for example in case of a missile fuel
explosion during time of storage.

Dismantling missiles having solid fuel happens in
temperature of 3500 degrees of Celsius, according to
Russian and American specialists poisonous dioxins will
form in cooling stream of gas during the process. Even
smallest doses of dioxins are poisonous; they easily
accumulate in
food chain, hurt embryos and cause cancer. They are
chemically stable, and stay lethally dangerous during
several decades. Technology for a completely safe
utilisation of missile engines using solid fuels just does not
exist.

Perm project was already once halted, in end of the
nineties governor of Perm oblast Yuri Trutnev promised
not to build facility, fulfilling one of his main election
promises. However in spring of 2004 Trutnev got invited
to second government of Putin, in exchange he has kept
silence about process since then. In Perm, Trutnev was
replaced by Oleg Chirkunov, who has powers of governor
until next elections.

Research on attitudes of Perm inhabitants to missile
dismantling

Already during first two weeks of June anarchists
conducted a research on attitudes of Perm inhabitants
towards missile dismantling project. This was first ever,
somewhat experimental attempt in former Soviet Union to
put a radical ecological protest campaign on "scientific
foundation". Besides curiosity, purpose of the research
was also to attract interest of the media. Although
anarchists conducted research, it attempted to be as
objective as possible and was formally done under cover of
Institute of Sociology of Russian Academy of Sciences.

Research was conducted by telephone; altogether 1200
people were called. Those who answered negatively to first
question "Have you heard about missile dismantling in
Zakamsk", or refused to answer to question, were not
further questioned. Only 397 among questioned answered
positively,
which for sure gave a bias in favour of politically conscious
people. Distribution of social status among sample fit
pretty well with characteristics of the general population,
only students were strongly over-represented (8.1%
among questioned, whereas in general population they are
only 4.6%). Most of the questions were open, since open
questions tend to manipulate respondents less than closed
ones.

Research involved questions on awareness of people on
missile dismantling, on attitude towards missile
dismantling, on priorising different problems of the city in
general, on awareness about activities of organisations and
willingness to participate to protest actions. Zakamsk
inhabitants, where Kirov factory complex where
dismantling is planned to be organised is located, were
consciously over-represented in research, but their
attitudes on dismantling in general did not differ from
main population although they were more aware of the
project and their opinions more polarized. This because
some of the few, who will benefit financially from the
project, are living in Zakamsk themselves. 63.2% of the
called Zakamsk inhabitants positively to first question,
whereas from rest of the Perm only 24%. Whole Zakamsk
suburb was built to serve Kirov and
neighbouring factories, and many people have first-hand
experience from dismantling, since factory still produces
ballistic missiles and those with defects are currently
burned inside factory.

78.6% answered that they attitude to missile dismantling is
"negative" or "very negative",
13.1% answered that their attitude is neutral and only 5%
considered project as "positive" or "very positive". 82.6%
of respondents considered dismantling as harmful to
environment (4.5% as not harmful), 78.8% considered
dismantling as harmful to health (8.1% as not harmful),
37.5%
believed that dismantling will create new workplaces
(30.0% believed that it won't) and 19.9% believed that
financial gains from the project will help to solve social
problems of the city (45.8% did not accepted this claim).
Inhabitants of Zakamsk suburb were even more sceptical
towards
claims about positive effects of the project than rest of the
inhabitants.

When respondents were asked to choice from four
possible answers to question "which among next claims
best of all describes your attitude towards dismantling of
the missiles", 2.3% answered "it is necessary to dismantle
rockets, even if this has negative effects to Perm
inhabitants", 37.8% answered that "dismantling should be
started only when there are safe technologies to do it",
53.9% answered "dismantling should be moved to a safe
distance from Perm" and 4.6% answered "let them do
what they want, I do not care".

According to research, 28% of the respondents considered
"bad roads" to be among three most urgent problems of
the city, followed by "ecological problems" (25%), "dirt
and trashes in the streets" (14.9%), "low quality, high
costs of municipal services" (13.6%), "unemployment"
(13.4%), bad transport system (12.6%),
"social-economical problems, low quality of life" (12.1%)
and "crime" (11.3%). Altogether people named 98
different. During last 15 years, ecological problems have
been among main catalysts of social movements and
according to this research, they still have not lost their
relevance among minds of the public.

Although 46.9% of Perm inhabitants announced that they
have heard about activities of ecological movement, only
4.5% could name some ecological organisations. Most
known was local Anarcho-Ecological Resistance (8
persons, 2%), followed by abstract "greens" (4 persons)
and "anarchists"
(2 persons), several NGO's were named by individual
persons. 52.4% answered that they would like to
participate to protest campaign against missile
dismantling, but among them 39.9% could not specify
their preferred form of action. 33.8% preferred
participation to a demonstration, picket or a meeting,
18.3% to subscribing a petition. All respondents were
asked if they could subscribe a petition, 79.8% would
have agreed and 9.8% would have disagreed. 46.3% could
have participated
to a meeting, and 17.4% could have participated to a
protest camp.

First days of the protest camp

Protest camp launched officially 2nd of July in Kirov
district, where Zakamsk suburb is located. Camp was set
up by Autonomous Action, Anarcho-Ecological
Resistance, Union for Chemical Safety and Yekaterinburg
Movement Against Violence. Soon members of Rainbow
Keepers who joined the camp decided that Rainbow
Keepers should be listed among camp organisers as well.
Camp is located next to huge Kirov factory complex, in
area where people have public gardens, which are crucial
for low-income people to survive. Kirov factory is
surrounded with a wall and three rounds of barbed wire,
between which armed conscripts are patrolling. Campers
have a
small picket during 5-6 hours every day in front of movie
theatre Ekran in centre of Zakamsk, in order to raise
awareness about the problem and to gather food and
money donations for the camp. Due to donations, there
has not yet been need to buy food for the camp. During
first two weeks of the camp, activists of Russian
indymedia and indyvideo also visited the camp;
perm.indymedia.org is result of their efforts. Hopefully
local activists will further maintain it. Indymedia activists
also organised movie screenings and training on video
activism.

In the beginning, camp faced almost no repression, only
few calls by municipal officials (sometimes presenting
themselves as outdoor advertisement agencies or
anonymous) demanding to clean area from posters
inviting inhabitants to meetings of 9th July and 16th of
July. 5th of July Vladimir
Anatolevich Lukyanenko from municipal administration
threated to halt electricity, water and gas supply of the
camp unless posters are removed, not figuring out that
camp has not electricity, water or gas supply in the first
place. Soldiers also visited camp during first days.

6th of July vice-chief of State Administration of Nature
Resources of Perm oblast Dmitry Klein finally agreed to
pass to campaigners documents about decision to halt
construction of closed burning rack for dismantling
missiles, which should be accompanied with stove and
storage for hazardous waste. This was after 5 months of
struggle and threats to sue Klein to court. According to
oral statements of anonymous supporters of protesters
who are working inside Kirov factory complex,
construction of these objects is still going on, and as a
matter of fact burning rack is almost finished already.
Since Kirov factory complex is a high-security military
object, no participator of campaign has ever been allowed
to check if decisions of Administration of Nature
Resources are followed, and struggle for access to
information is as crucial as the question about missile
dismantling in general. These documents have been
scanned and uploaded to Perm campaign indymedia,
perm.indymedia.org.

Actions in Zakamsk and city centre

9th of July, camp participators and 300 Zakamsk
inhabitants gathered in front of movie theatre Ekran in
centre of Zakamsk suburb, agreeing to make an
ultimatum to powers of all levels. Speakers included
ecological experts, inhabitants of Zakamsk suburb and
former workers of
Mashinostroitel and Scientific Institute of Polymeric
Materials, both of whom are located inside Kirov factory
complex and are participating to missile dismantling
project. Perm mayor Arkadi Kamenev and Oleg
Chirkunov, which works as temporary Perm oblast
governor now when Putin invited former governor and
formerly anti-missile Trutnev to be minister of nature
resources in his new cabinet, were invited but they did not
appear.

In case of refusal to fulfill ultimatum, that means, if
governor of Perm oblast O. Chirkunov, governor of Perm
A. Kamenev, directors of NPO Iskra, Mashinostroitel and
Scientific Institute of Polymeric Materials do not give
documents that prove that project of deconstruction of
solid fuel
ballistic missiles in Perm area is halted, participators of the
protest camp declared that they will rely on more radical
methods. Participators promised to wait reply until 16th of
July. Meeting was finished with a non-legalised march by
streets of Zakamsk from movie theatre Ekran to
dislocation of protest camp in front of walls of Kirov
factory. Demonstrators scanned "No to missiles!", "Give
us Trutnev to be dismantled!", "Missiles away from
Perm!", "Petrovich made a good deal,
Zakamsk will turn to a huge morgue!" and "Resistance or
death!". Before meeting, Kirov factory walls were sprayed
with slogans "No to missiles!", "Dismantle Trutnev!",
"Rights are not given, rights are taken!" and others to raise
spirits of protesters. During next week, Perm centre got its
share of protests, when "No to missiles", "Limousines - to
deputies, dioxins - to Perm inhabitants" and other slogans
were sprayed around administrative buildings in the centre
of the city. A banner "3 days are remaining" (to fulfil our
ultimatum) was raised outside parliament of
Perm Oblast in Tuesday 13th of July.

14th of July participators of the protest camp organised a
performance in front of Perm oblast administration. For a
moment, square in front of the administrative building
transformed into a scene of epic battle between good and
evil, more exactly, between nature and dangerous factory.
Dance of flowers, accompanied by smooth pop music, was
disturbed by appearance of Bush and Perm oblast
governor Chirkunov. Chirkunov was begging money from
Bush, and having already received a pile of green dollars,
kept demanding more and more. Soon workers brought in
a "missile dismantling factory" with sign of chemical
hazard, and Chirkunov set a missile on fire
in the factory. Square was filled with smoke, and rather
symbolic "nature" was coughing and died, while Bush was
convincing everybody about safety of the project.
Upcoming chair of the current governor, looking to be
elected in autumn of 2005, was built on carcass of the
nature.

In the evening of 14th of July camp participators and
Zakamsk inhabitants got an urgent reminder why project
of missile dismantling is so dangerous. A wagon of a train
carrying hydrochloric acid dropped from rails only 400
meters from dislocation of the protest camp. Although this
particular
train was not going to Kirov but to neighbouring factory
complex, the very same rails which are in a horrible
condition are to be used for carrying dangerous missiles to
Kirov factory, in case dismantling project is to be realised.

16th of July - police moves to offensive

16th of July, anarchists and ecologists gathering 5 PM at
movie theatre Ekran had only
Permission for a picket. Some 200 people, most of whom
Zakamsk inhabitants came to listen what powers had to
reply to ultimatum given in a meeting a week before.
Protest camp participators repeated performance, which
had been organised at oblast administration two days
before, and atmosphere was cheerful. Since powers did
not came with any answers, activists brought in a
loudspeaker, agitating people for more radical action. By
legal definition, loudspeaker is the crucial difference
between meeting and a picket, and so action turned illegal.

Soon chief of Scientifical Research Institute of Polymeric
Materials Anatoliy Ponik, fierce supporter of the missile
dismayal project, demanded loudspeaker and when that
was refused he began to make a speech with his own. This
was most likely a planned provocation, since police could
now arrest Ponik with little resistance, after which they
attempted to grab orator of the protest action. Provocation
seems even more likely, when one takes into account that
Ponik was supported by a bunch of drunken and violent
goons, and unlike other arrested he was not taken to
police
station.

Grabbing anti-rocket protesters was a harder task for
coppers, and eventually anarchists managed to de-arrest
orator, with casualties of two arrested and a trashed
loudspeaker. Protestors formed a human chain scanning
"Burn rockets in your own cabinets!", "Gave us Trutnev
to be dismantled!", "Our politics is that we want to live!",
"Together we will win!", and eventually coppers had to
withdraw without further arrests.

When police tried to drive away with a "Buhanok" with
one arrested, road was blocked and activists scanned "Free
political prisoners!", "Free our comrades!", "Shame on
police!" and "We are not afraid of men in grey!". Coppers
turned pretty rude, people lying in the ground were beaten
to stomachs, kidneys and stepped on with rather
non-sexist and non-ageist manner, giving equally
rough treatment to children, girls and elderly. Elderly
Zakamsk inhabitants were also taking on coppers,
shouting "Free children!". Violent goons helped coppers
in cleaning the way. Eventually police managed to get
away with arrested.

Third clash with police happened when protestors
attempted to began an illegal march towards
administration building of the Kirov factory, but now
numbers were already too much in favour of coppers, and
altogether police managed to arrest 15 persons during the
action.

Some 90 persons decided to march to Kirov area police
station in order to support arrested comrades. On the way,
a man drive by and offered eggs to attack police in Kirov
police station. Soon it became obvious that guy was a
provocateur, and it was decided to cook eggs for dinner
(unfortunately a vegan option was not offered). Later on
car of this "friend" was seen in yard of the police station.

Colon supporting arrested comrades was met by chain of
40 police guarding the station. Supporters waited until all
of the participators were freed half past eight, but released
were not given their passports, which is illegal. Adults
among arrested will face court 11 AM next Monday (19th
of
July), charge will be a misdemeanour "violation of
regulations concerning public mass actions", police is
demanding short jail sentences of few days for arrested.
Activists learned from unofficial sources that orders to
arrest protest organisers was given personally by police
chief of the city
Konstantin Strogiy.

While camp participator Sergei Kryuchkov was returning
alone to camp after action with information stand used in
daily pickets, he was assaulted by goons, stand was
destroyed and he was beaten up. Goons promised to visit
camp "soon".

Raising stakes, building pressure

19th of July participators of the protest camp visited a
briefing for journalists in administration of the oblast.
Since ecologists did not managed to have Chirkunov
travelling to Zakamsk, they decided to pay a visit to his
office. Three persons were refused entrance to
administration, it was announced that briefing is closed,
and only accredited journalists will be let in.

Ecologists decided to try backdoor instead. Some 15
anarchists with flags made it to building, security was told
that they came for the briefing, and people quickly
dispersed to building before security could react. Activists
got stopped only at the door of conference room in third
floor, 3 activists with press cards were stopped as well,
which provoked them to shout "Burn missiles in your
cabinets!" and "Chirkunov, people want to talk with
you!".

Visiting group made a transformation to spontaneous
meeting at stairs of the oblast administration. One of the
windows between stairs and corridor of third floor
committed revolutionary act of auto-destruction, allowing
activists to present their cause to journalists who left
conference hall, preferring action instead. Activists of the
protest camp explained that they see ongoing project in
Perm as an ecocide against environment and inhabitants.
One of the participators was arrested, and
activists continued action in a police station nearby,
demanding his liberation. Eventually he was sentenced to
5 days in jail for "minor hooliganism".

22nd of July a picket in front of a stock of solid fuel
rockets at building of administration of Kirov factory
become an illegal meeting. After end of picket,
participators did not want to disperse, but they kept
demonstrating another half hour. Around 100 people
participators, most of them inhabitants of Zakamsk
region, threaten by project. Participators of the protest
camp spoke about latest action, and reactions of
mainstream media to their activities.

Participators of the civil disobedience action scanned "Let
us defend our rights!", "Power is afraid of us!", "When we
are united, we will not be defeated!" and "All power to the
people!". After illegal meeting, 25 people sat down to
stairs of the building and took hold on each others, in
order to avoid arrests. Police decided not to infer this time.
Participators organised an illegal march by streets of
Zakamsk to camp location.

In the evening of Sunday 25th, 10 participators of the
protest camp decided to visit tennis tournament "Bolshoi
Tandem", in order to tell elite of Perm what they think
about destruction of their city.

Activists spread to tribunes, raised banner and shouted
"Deputates are playing - Permians are dying!", soon
security moved activists out from tribune. Only Dmitri
Ostrovskiy succeeded to stay in stadium. He waited until
winners were given prizes, and dressed to a costume of
death and headed towards VIP's to remind about dioxin
poisoning they are planning for Perm inhabitants. One
bodyguard stopped Dmitriy, and out from eyes of
spectators and cameras beat him up and trashed his
eyeglasses. From police station of Sverdlovsk area he was
sent to medical centre number 1. Police and
administration of sport complex "Green Duck" refused to
give name of bodyguard who had beaten up Dmitri.

28th of July protest camp published free tabloid "For Perm
without missiles". Tabloid has articles about participators
of the protest camp, short history of the problem,
chronicle of actions, opinions of specialists and
information about upcoming actions. Tabloid was
financed by donations from Perm inhabitants.

Blockade of Perm oblast administration

Blockade of Perm oblast administration, organised by
participators of the protest camp and supported by
inhabitants of Perm, was launched around 5 PM. Around
20 persons blockaded building, chaining themselves to
each others. 250 people participated to meeting, scanning
"Burn missiles in your own cabinets!", "When we are
united, we are victorious!" and "Let us save future for our
children!". Most of the participators came from distant
suburb of Zakamsk, where dismantling of rockets is
planned. GAI traffic police attempted to block buses
carrying demonstrators, but Zakamsk inhabitants in buses
threated to blockade only bridge of the city
over river Kama, and police was forced to pass them
through. In 11 PM, when most of the participators of the
meeting had left, OMON special forces used brutal force
to arrest blockaders of the administration. 18 persons were
taken to police station of Lenin district, 3 arrested juvenile
offenders were sent to Centre of Social Adaptation. Police
and OMON (special forces of ministry of interior)
brutalized people already during arrest, and beatings were
continued in the police station. 12 of the arrested were
beaten to stomach to ribs, arms were bent and electric
shocks were given. Vice chief of security department of
Perm police, Konstantin Strogiy was guarding torture.

11th of August a court was organized against participators
of the protest action in district court of Perm. 7
participators of the meeting were sentenced to 3 days in
prison, two participators got 5 days in prison and one
person got one week. One female arrestee was released,
two others got 1000 roubles in fines - they protested
strongly against sexism of the court.

Court was closed; journalists and representatives of public
were not let to court. Few persons demanded judge to
organize medical investigation on torture wounds, but this
appeal was ignored. As a protest against ignorance of the
judge, Roman Yushkov spoke poems of Brodskiy loudly,
after which he was removed from court. He will be judged
for disrespect of court later on.

5 of the arrested announced a dry hunger strike as a
protest against injustice and police brutality.
Two girls who were fined announced that they will pay
fines with peppermint. All sentenced did their full
sentences, and hunger strikers kept strike. Last of the
arrested to be freed was Roman Yushkov 17th of August,
he was tired after 6 days in a dry hunger strike, but in a
good morale.

Ecological disasters - a foretaste from future?

At morning 15th of August, a wagon on its way to factory
"Galogen", located in Kirov
district of Perm, dropped from rails and leaked around 40
tons of 20% hydrochloric
acid to environment. Officials claimed that they have
managed to localize damage, and
neutralize acid.

Workers, who participated to neutralisation, however told
to participators of the protest camp,
that immediate neutralization attempt failed, and camp
was saved from poisonous cloud just because wind
happened blow to another direction, and rain absorbed
part of the cloud. Incident happened some 2-3 kilometres
from ongoing radical ecological protest camp.

Last time a train transporting hydrochloric acid dropped
from rails exactly one month before, but
back then without leaks. Perm officials, in cooperation
with American Washington Group International, are
committed to transport ballistic missiles for dismantling
on very same railroad,
disastrous condition of which has already lead to two
serious incidents.

Central Administration of Natural Resources has not
prolonged permission of NII Polymeric Materials to make
emissions to atmosphere. Previous permission of NII PM
got outdated 1st of July. Permission was not prolonged,
because NII PM was found violating many technological
and environmental norms. However workers of Kirov
factory and people working with their gardens confirm that
missiles are burned all the time. Protest campers have
gathered information about missiles burned in open rack
2nd, 10th and 23rd of July, 19th of July two missiles were
burned. Workers of NII PM have been banned, with threat
of fines and sackings, from any discussion with ecologists.
However workers and specialists keep passing oral
testimony and valuable documents to hands of the
protesters, risking their workplaces for the sake of Perm
inhabitants. Notwithstanding the testimony, 29th of July
Chirkunov, who is now working as Perm Oblast governor
when Trutnev was called to be Minister of Natural
Resources, made a parallel between witnesses of missile
burning and those who claim to have seen UFO's.

Campaign headquarters under attack

17th of August protestors were targeted with a new form
of pressure. 11 AM, 5 persons (2 of whom muscles)
appeared in apartment in the centre of Perm, which has
worked as city headquarters for the camp. They demanded
to free apartment in 3 minutes, and to take all computers
and equipment away. Aleksandr Filippov, leading the
group, showed some unclear paper from administration of
the oblast in order to justify his demands. Later on
activists found out, that Filippov is working in electionary
committee of Perm oblast.

Activists refused to leave building, and uninvited visitors
went on taking lock from the door. One activist of the
camp managed to seize stolen lock, and to close the door.
Soon electricity from campaign headquarters was cut off.

Protest camp will be going on at least two more weeks,
and campaign undoubtly even longer. This is just
beginning!

Contact of the protest camp:
Lager_perm@mail.ru
Perm.indymedia.ru
=============================











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