Rainbow Keepers behind Bars

Activists from theRainbow Keepers ecological group were sentenced to between five and seven days confinement for organizing a demonstration in front of the residence of Sverdlovsk Region governor Eduard Rossel without the sanction of municipal authorities.

Petr DYAKONOV, Yelena MAKEI, Yekaterinburg

Rainbow Keepers and activists from the Social-Ecological Union of Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Perm and Kasimov, ten people all told, gathered on June 10 in front the governor's residence to protest the construction of a BN800 atomic reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. Municipal authorities had not given permission to hold the demonstration, since Mayor Chernetsky of Yekaterinburg has set aside other places in the city for such events. Police officers took the demonstrators into custody after the conclusion of their action when the were preparing to leave. All ten were ordered onto a police bus, charged with "malicious insubordination to police officers" and taken to the District Department of Internal Affairs (RUVD) in the Kirov neighborhood of Yekaterinburg. In addition, the police required that journalists from Perm covering the event present their cameras and video equipment for examination. The demonstrators were held for several hours at the RUVD. That evening, all of them except for one Mr. Yefremov from Irkutsk, who did not have his passport with him, were released until their trial. The next day, Judge Kazantsev from the Kirov District Court in Yekaterinburg heard their misdemeanor case and ruled that the ecologists were guilty of holding an unauthorized meeting, rather than of the more serious charge of disrupting public order. In the judge's opinion, the demonstrators had failed to heed the police's demand to cease the illegal action and provoked the police officers to coercion. Therefore, Mr. Kazantsev declared them guilty of "malicious insubordination to the lawful demands of police officers" (article 165 of the Code of Administrative Violations) and handed them over to custody. The convicts were immediately taken to the holding facility for vagabonds and panhandlers, where they declared a hunger strike. For more than a year and a half, theRainbow Keepers have been demonstrating and gathering signatures to draw public attention to safety hazards at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. Meetings and demonstrations are not rare in Yekaterinburg. For some reason, the municipal authorities are stricter with ecological demonstrators than with others. The communists hold unsanctioned meetings in front of the municipal administrative building on 1905 Square almost every day without problems with the police.