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  • by Sergey Fomichov and Nadia Shevchenko

    RAINBOW KEEPERS IN KASIMOV


    On August 3rd, the actioncamp of the radical ecological movement "Rainbow Keepers" started it's work again on front of the plant Roskontact (Krotbers LTD). Activists from Russia, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Boleros are participating in the actioncamp.

    The main demands of the actioncamp are to stop building of part of the plant "Roskontact", which has installed two stoves illegally, without environmental assessment.

    The Background

    Last year, after the series of direct actions, the "Rainbow Keepers" had stopped the project of company "Krotbers" to build up the plant for reprocessing of radioelectronic scarp and converter "Kaldo>. The project was implementing by transnational corporation "Boliden Conteh" with financial support of Nordbank.

    Swedish company "Boliden Conteh AB" was going to bring to the equipment for obtaining of colour metals from radio-electronically scarp (electronic chips, cables and out of date strategical rockets. The technology consists of burning out the scarp inside the converter "Kaldo".

    Since August 1997, local corporation "Roskontakt" has started preparations to the building of the plant on the land of company "Krotbers".

    Technical assessment of the project got more then 20 discords and was sent to work more on. However, after 4 month the project got approval of the most part of expert comity, which haven't chemical skills, except one. But big number of problems wasn't solved. In particular, after strange reduction of sanitary-protection area of the plant from 2km to 500m, the village Bochkari still be inside the zone (and in 980 mitres is another one). Opinion of experts is different in assessment of air pollution of the plant (for instance, dioxin pollution). Moreover, didn't get a solution for emission of polluted water from the plant to The Oka River (purification was excluded because it's high cost).

    The site had to be situated on the highway Nizhniy Novgorod - Ryazhsk, on the Oka River side, on the border of Ryazan, Vladimir and Nizhniy Novgorod oblasts.

    Ecological organisations, local media and local people were against the project from the beginning. Kasimov people have collected few hundreds signatures against the project themselves and passed them to media. Ryazan ecological newsletter "Zelenyy Luch" ("Green Ray") had begun informational campaign against the project. Despite the statement of the plant administration about their will to discuss it with public, there is no information for public from the administration at all. Environmental activists from Nizhniy Novgorod oblast and from Moscow became concerned about the project. Journalist team of "Environmental expedition of RTR" from Russian TV company "RTR" visited Kasimov.

    In spring of 1998, when it became known about environmental catastrophe on one of enterprises of "Boliden Conteh" in Seville, Spain, the situation became tenser. In April of 1998 several millions cube meters of polluted water have got to a river because the dike was broken. As a result, everything alive in the river and connected land has died. Therefore Russian Ministry of Foreign Relations recommended to tourist companies to not organise trips to Seville. It was the most dangerous environmental accident in Western Europe during the time after World War II.

    Radical environmental movement "Rainbow Keepers" had started its summer campaign. They had organised 2 meetings in the town, and the last one gathered more than 1000 persons. On 21 of August Local Administration Building was blocked and the Head of the administration had signed a statement to cancel the project. Local environmental group was created with "Rainbow Keepers assistance, and then the group became a member of Social Ecological Union. Next half of year a court process about legality of environmental assessment of the project was going. In May of 1999 the court has clarified the assessment as not legal (now this process is stocked in the regional court). A new protest campaign against existing plant of first step of reprocessing electronic scarp is going, moreover, to reinforce the result of last year campaign.

    SUMMER 1999: A CRONICLE

    From the beginning of the campaign Rainbow Keepers, with support of locals, started to collect signatures against this plant. From 4 of August informational picket is working everyday in the city. The action provoked negative reaction of "Krotbers" company leaders and local authority (who remember "Rainbow Keepers" victory last year as a nightmare). Police is checking everyone's ID in the camp everyday, including IDs of journalists, and threatening with administrative arrests, in case if somebody is not registered in local police department - which is not required by the low.

    The chiefs of "Krotbers" had seen the camp and tried to stop Rainbow Keepers with a tractor, which was plugging the area next to the plant's fence. Despite the support of police, it was impossible to get ride of Rainbow Keepers camp. Later, in the evening, some people from "Krotbers" came and tried to threaten people in the camp, but they couldn't.

    On 5th of August the camp was attacked second time. 10 employers of "Krotbers" company, dressed in military uniform (not like Russian one), sport shoes, with sticks, came with track and van without numberplates. They put everyone from the camp violently with all luggage and camp equipment into the track and brought people to forest in 40 kilometres from Kasimov. There attackers started to interrogate activists without showing any official papers or ID, but beating people and threatening with murder.

    Among the questions, that people in uniform were asking during interrogation were questions about the role of famous scientist academic Yablokov in the struggle against "Krotbers". Yablokov has a house in Kasimov area. Taking into account that he has recently been attacked by mafia driving on the road, "Rainbow Keepers" are now worrying about his security.

    Attackers stole many documents about <Krotbers>, passports, and money. Films were destroyed. All the documents and things were filmed on the video by bandits.

    After have left activists without water in the middle of the unknown forest, and promised to come to the activist's houses if they ever come to Kasimov again, the gang receded.

    One of the bandits was recognised by activists as the "Krotbers" guard who had come to the camp the day before and threatened the "Rainbow Keepers" with violence.

    The activists wrote complaints to the police and prosecutor during the night.

    The camp council took a decision to make a statement to the authorities and mass media, that if the bandits not give stolen things back, the camp will take adequate measures against "Krotbers" and will make a series of direct actions. The council also announced the town public meeting for August 8th, and called for voluntary mobilisation among the "Rainbow Keepers" movement.

    On the next day the activists were continuing the work of the pickets in the town. The representatives of the camp had a meeting with the Head of Kasimov area administration and passed him demands.

    This day was an anniversary day for radical environmental movement. 10 years ago the first direct action camp (the camp of protest - in Russian) as started its work in Chapaevsk, Samara region. It was the beginning of many environmental organisations activity, including the "Rainbow Keepers". But celebration speech "10 years of the camps" was cancelled because of the last events.

    On the August 5th, about 5:00pm the camp renewed it's work again. Almost write after that the camp was attacked by the "Krotbers" guard, with new attempt of "deportation". Two activists and one from the guard were injured. The guard stated that they don't afraid of the Justice, because Natalia Suchkova, the chief of the company, has enough money to buy the Justice. The called police came with 5-hour delay, write at the end of the attack. At 10:00pm, about 20 guards, armed with sticks attacked the camp again, beat the activists, and burned the camp and all the personal things (including passports, money, food, etc.), using patrol.

    The "Rainbow Keepers" remained on the ash, despite of everything, that happened.

    The came chiefs of local police wrote down an evidences, and set 24 hours police guard watch next to the rests of the camp, as activists refused to leave the place.

    On the August 7th, the conflict between the company from one side and the activists and locals from another side was developing dynamically. The area's Police department resembled destroyed ant's house. All of them were discussing about "Rainbow Keepers". "Rainbow Keepers"'s car war destroyed in the night, and police had to came again. In the morning chiefs of regional police, administration of the region, area and local department of the Federal Security Service came to the local police department. The department lost the weekend rest - they ran out of people for the camp watch and interview of witnesses, and they had to find additional weapons.

    The situation hot up when the chief of the company Natalia Suchkova came to the camp, and promised to burn the camp out again with activists inside. She also couldn't ignore the police, and promised to dial with them too. Police wrote a transcript of that, immediately. Suchkova stated, that she is going to the governor, write now and he will imprison everybody, that, she resided.

    Locals came to the came to support the action and help to defend the camp from the bandits. They also started to collect signatures under the demand to the prosecutor to stop the attacks and robberies. The Embassy of Czech Republic made a phone call to the Area administration, worrying about their citizens.

    The worth thing happens on the afternoon. The "Rainbow Keepers" activist Vadim Lebedev vent to the hospital to register officially the marks of the fact that he was beaten, and never came back. The announcement to the police and local TV had no result.

    On the August 8th, the public meeting happened on front of the Kasimov area administration. The people discussed the events and locals decided that their representatives would stay on the camp. The Authorities were trying to put people against the "Rainbow Keepers", telling that activists are bandits, and working for Western special Services.There were participants of camp pogroms, threatening activists with violence again.

    On August 9th, the police interrogated at least 2 participants of the 1st attack, and gave back stolen money and passports. But the police doesn't call the events as a robbery and attack, they initiated the case for the low article "hooliganism". The court for the participants of the public meeting in the 8th of August was announced for August 10th. The police chief took the guns away from police guard, who was on watch in the camp. In the August 11th the police guard was taken away from the camp at all.

    On August 12th, "Rainbow Keepers together with local environmental group made a picket action on front of the Aria Deputies Council. In the evening, the meeting happen with activists and inhabitants of the village Bochkari, which is next to the plant. Some of people from the village came to the camp and gave a support with food and woods.

    Last few days there were an information about "Rainbow Keepers" spread apparently initiated by Ms Suchkona and her friends from Federal Security Service. The information was obviously made from different parts of documents, stolen from "Rainbow Keepers" during the attacks. It was telling that the "Rainbow Keepers" are going to overthrow the present local power and to establish the Anarchy on the area... according to the order from the Kingdom of The Netherlands and for the money from The Netherlands. And one of the options is to turn Kasimov to the Netherlands countryside. Here we have to notice, that the "Rainbow Keepers" haven't got any financing for their actions in Kasimov and now have are using the last reserves of the movement.

    Federal Security Service, "Krovbers" and local authorities together put this information to the emergency issue of the local newspaper "Mescherskaya Nov'". The issue from August 13th, which consist of the materials about the "Rainbow Keepers" only, had a unique circulation - 10 000 issues. However, this issue makes a promotion for the "Rainbow Keepers", which they couldn't afford by themselves - the circulation of independent town newspaper, "Put K Svobode" ("The Way To The Freedom"), issuing by "Rainbow Keepers", is 1000 copies. Among the materials was published the draft of the program "Kasimov's alternative", with a conception of the "soft", non-violent revolution, which wasn't approved by the movement jet.

    On the August 13th, the court happened and one of the publics meeting participant got a warning of the court, and four was sentenced for fines. At the same day Suchkova has tried to initiate a crime case against the "Rainbow Keepers", telling that the camp occupied her land illegally. But she couldn't prove that with
    documents because she likely got this land illegally. The police refused to initiate the case.

    On the August 16th, the representatives of the camp and local activists met the Head of Kasimov administration to discuss the public meeting, which planned for the August 21st. There were also the Head of the "Krotbers" company ms Suchkova, the Head of local police, representatives of the press, local council of deputies, Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB).

    Suchkova officially refused from her recent promises to stop building of the dangerous part of the plant. 3 activists announced hunger strike to protest that.

    Local authorities agreed with necessity of independent environmental assessment of the project.

    On the August 17th, activists met the authorities again, and agreed the conditions and the place of the public meeting for the August 21st.The hunger strike is continuing in front of the town Administration building, and, as it was expected, all the night activists had aggressive criminal "visitors".

    On the 18th of August the administration stuff started to threaten people with police arrest. At 18:00 p.m. there was a TV program about the situation around the project on the local TV channel, with participation of the Head of the "Krotbers" company ms Suchkova, environmental prosecutor from Ryazan Ageev and Kasimov Major Epiphanov. They were twisting facts, and you could feel a hidden to dial with environmental
    movement on the region.

    In the night of August 21st the hunger strikers were attacked, 2 activists were beaten up.

    The public meeting was upset by the administration and workers of the "Krotbers" company, who came with 4 buses and with powerful electrical megaphone. The first their speaker presented himself as a Federal Security Service (FSS) officer. He was one of those who attacked the camp on the 5th of August, interrogated activists after bring them to the forest, and stole the documents. The FSS officers behaving "openly", for instance, on the 16 of August, one of the officers stated, that FSS gave to the Major "Rainbow Keepers"'s papers, that were stolen during the attack on the camp.

    After the meeting local activists invited the "Rainbow Keepers" to their place to discuss the situation. After 20 minutes the Major came with the police and asked for the permission to have a meeting in this room. He behaved aggressively, but finally agreed with proposal to have a round table about the project.The general council of the camp and local activists took a decision to stop the hunger strike.

    On the August 23rd, the camp was attacked again. At 8:00 am aggressive crowd of guard and workers of the "Krotbers" and "Roscontact" about 200 people all together came on few buses came to the camp. Suchkova told them that activists want to shut down all the "Krotbers" company enterprises but not only pert of the "Roskontact", and leave them without jobs. Firstly they demanded to paint the slogans on the fence over. After refuse attackers beat 5 activists up, and used a brutal physical violence to the activists - cutting hair, beating and making people paint the fence by their hair.

    Attackers were destroying the camp, tents, and demanding to stop the action and violently interrogating some activists. Then they flooded the camp with water from fire brigade car. They had a video camera, and filmed everything, except beating. Ms Suchkova was observing everything from her car. The police, who came after the call of one of the activists, wasn't interfering. Only after the pogrom they took victims to the police department.Soon the Major Epiphanov, which recently guarantied the security of the camp, came to the camp. He nothing told, because there was nothing to tell after the incident.

    About 17:00 p.m. the son of Suchkova came to the camp with his friends and threatened activists with violence and even with murder in case if they not stop the camp.

    The town newspaper "Mescherskaya Nov" published another article against the "Rainbow Keepers" with information that there is a crime case initiated against the "Rainbow Keepers" for the attempt of the state upheaval, and anti-constitutional activity.

    On the August 26th, two policemen and one FSS officer came to the "Rainbow Keepers" house in Kasimov. They asked about archive, and documents for the computer. Then they took two activists to FSS office for interrogation, where were mainly asking if the movement is going to change the constitution and political system in the region.

    The general council of the camp and local activists decided that in after everything happen the camp needs to take a time-out, and continue the action by a different way after some time.

    "RAINBOW KEEPERS": 10YEARS OF THE CAMPS.

    This year was the universally year for the radical environmental movement. 10 years ago, the first direct action protest camp started in Chapaevsk, Samara region. This protest camp was a beginning for many radical environmental initiatives, including "the Rainbow Keepers" movement, the only movement which since this time are organising often resulted direct actions and protest camps every summer in different parts of Eastern and Central Europe.

    The movement is continually growing. This year we had protest camps in Perm (against factory line for burning of rocket fuel and disjoining of strategical military rockets), in the National Park Samarskaya Luka, in Ekaterinburg (against Beloyarskaya Nuclear Power Plant), in Ktrasnodarsky Kray. Besides that The movement organise campaigns and direct actions in Ukraine against new nuclear reactors, in Boleros against nuclear power development, in Rostov against Rostov NPP, in Prague against globalisation, in Moscow etc. and take part in different campaigns and direct actions in Western Europe.

    "Rainbow Keepers" press-service, t. + 7 (09131) 41514