Russians in 20 Cities Protest Nuke Waste Import Plan

MOSCOW, Russia, January 16, 2001 (ENS) - Russian environmental groups organized their first day of actions Monday against a proposal of the Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom) import nuclear waste on a commercial basis.

Actions took place in 20 cities across western and central Russia, the Ural district and Siberia.

The environmentalists are protesting approval given by the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, for a first reading of three laws that would allow Minatom to store and reprocess foreign spent nuclear fuel in Russia. Current Russian law does not permit the import of nuclear waste.

The laws must now be approved now in second and third readings. Then they will need approval from President Vladimir Putin and the Federation Council. The Duma has scheduled second reading of the waste import bills next Monday, January 22.

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Anti-nuclear protest action near the Minatom building in Moscow (Photo courtesy Socio-Ecological Union)
On Monday, Yabloko, the only political party which strongly opposed the nuclear waste import in the Duma, called for nationwide resistance to the Minatom plan.

In most of Monday's actions, members of the local branches of different political parties from Democrats to Communists joined the protests.

On January 22, environmental activists plan a fax blitz of all political factions in the Duma to demonstrate their opposition to the nuclear waste import bills.

Anti-Nuclear campaign and Press-Service, which both belong to the environmental coalition known as the Socio-Ecological Union, intend to publish action updates on resistance to the waste imports in Moscow every day until January 22.

A new report on the transportion of radioactive materials across Russia will be released next week at the National Press Institute in Moscow. The report, by analysts that the environmental groups refer to as "independent," says nuclear transport is extremely dangerous in Russia with dozens of serious accidents happening every year.

The Socio-Ecological Union and EcoDefense! have been working since 1994 to stop the development and spread of nuclear technology, and replace it with renewable sources of energy and efficiency technologies.