New Nukes First Casualty
On July 24 the UK Independent Media Center (UKIMC) reported: “In the early
morning of 21st July, neo-nazi skinheads launched a vicious and unprovoked
attack on an anti-nuclear protest camp in Angarsk, Siberia, Russia. The
Nazis violently attacked activists in their sleeping bags with iron rods,
knives, and air pressure guns causing 20-year-old Ilya Borodaenko to suffer
a head- fracture. He later died in the hospital from his injuries. At least
nine others have been reported to be seriously injured, one of whom had
both legs broken. Tents were set on fire and several belongings were stolen.”
According to UKIMC, “Last March anti-nuclear activists showed up at a Rosatom
news conference in St. Petersburg during the announcement of a decision
to build a uranium enrichment center in Angarsk. They opened a banner in
front of TV cameras that read ‘Angarsk Is Not A Nuclear Dump’ and chanted
‘Keep Your Garbage In Your Offices’…
“In mid-July a local environmental group, Ecological Wave of Baikal, set
up the camp to protest plans by Rosatom (the state agency for Russia’s
nuclear industry)…to establish an International Uranium Enrichment Centre
at the Angarsk uranium enrichment plant to supply fuel to Russian and other
“The site is near the boundaries of the town of Angarsk…100km from Lake
Baikal, which is the world’s deepest lake and classed by the UNESCO World
Heritage Committee as one of the World National Heritage Sites,” UKIMC
Last December Ecological Wave of Baikal helped organize a “No to Chernobyl
at Baikal” assembly, which issued this statement: “We declare a decisive
no to Ros-Atom’s plans to build the International Enrichment Centre in
Angarsk, no to illegal imports from abroad of radioactive waste in the
form of uranium talings to the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine.”
The Electrolysis Chemical Combine has been receiving depleted uranium from
Western Europe since 1996 for “enrichment,” to create new nuclear fuel.
However, only 10 percent of that received has been returned to Europe.
Over 500 tons of nuclear waste sits at the Angarsk site. The proposed International
Uranium Enrichment Center would be at the same site.
According to UKIMC, “The first agreement about the creation of a network
of international centers for the enrichment of uranium was reached at last
summer’s meeting of the G8 in St. Petersburg.” There Russian president
Putin pushed through a proposal to build the first such center at Angarsk.
UKIMC reported that Vladamir Servetnik, deputy general of Tenex, Russia’s
nuclear fuel monolopy said that potential partners in the Angarsk center
are Japan, India, Iran, and African nations. Ser- vetnik also said that
negotiations with South Korea are underway.
Presently Russia’s only partner in this initiative is its uranium rich
neighbor Kazakhstan. A U.S. State Department official endorsed the proposed
international enrichment center at the third Global Initiative to Combat
Global Terrorism conference in Kazakhstan last June. In fact, the U.S.
has been leading a so-called nuclear renaissance, both at home and abroad.
In the U.S. the Bush administration’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program is promoting
and heavily subsidizing the licensing and construction costs of new nuclear
plants. A one-line measure slipped into the 2007 Energy Bill could guarantee
$50 billion in loans to U.S. new nuke utilities over the next two years,
a measure added subsequent to a March meeting of Department of Energy Secretary
Samuel Bodman and five major banks.
According to a July 9 report by Bloomberg.com, at this meeting representatives
of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan
Stanley told Bohman that the Bush administration had to bump up federal
guarantees for new nuke construction costs from 72 percent to 80 percent
before they’d get involved. Now, nuclear utilities are planning to build
over 30 nuclear plants in the U.S. Recently the first application to build
a new U.S. nuke at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear station in Maryland was filed
with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear utilities are expected
to file more such applications in the latter part of this year.
Russia is planning to build 40 nuclear plants in the next few years, as
well as new floating ones in South Africa and Southeast Asia.
Nyet To New Nukes
Ilya Borodaenko may be the first casualty of the global nuclear renaissance,
but his friends at the Angarsk camp are determined to show that he did
not die in vain. On the day he died they issued a statement: “The terrible
and considered cruelty of their attack makes no doubt that it was not the
work of some ordinary hooligans, but a thought over action of Nazis…
[W]e cannot be silent…we will forget nothing and we won’t forgive Ilya
Borodaenko’s murderers (irrespective of successes or failures of the official
repressive system investigating the crime). We won’t stop…our environmental
protest camp, we won’t stop our struggle against [the] fascist plague and
nuclear mafia, against authoritative ideas and racist dregs, against all
that destroys nature and human life and dignity. Today we grieve. Tomorrow
we will continue the struggle.”
Since the attack and murder, police have arrested 20 alleged perpetrators,
but they have denied any political motive to the attack. At first they
claimed that the reason for it was revenge for prior attacks by anti-fa
(anti-fascists) on neo-Nazis in the area. But camp survivors reported that
the attackers were shouting nationalist slogans when they hit.
Such attacks did not stop after July 21 as on July 23, in Angarsk city,
“Five youths beat up three anti-fascists while warning them not to testify
against the neo-Nazis who have been detained in connection with the original
attack on the environmentalists’ camp,” the Union of Counsels for Soviet
Jews (UCSJ) in the former Soviet Union reported.
Nevertheless, local authorities have attempted to throw suspicion on victims
of the July attack. On July 22, Interfax-Siberia reported that regional
prosecutor Alexander Semy- onov stated, “Police are investigating to what
movement the camp residents belong.”
More recently, after making the arrests in late July, the police publicly
identified one suspect as the son of a member of Ecological Wave of Baikal.
The police used this connection to allege that the motive for the July
21 attack was rivalry between competing environmental groups. But these
groups pointed out that the 20th arrestee was the only one identified and
accused the police of throwing up another smokescreen to cover the real
motive for the attack. Police collusion in the attack and its aftermath
is also suspected. The more obvious perpetrators in these crimes, however,
are Rosatom, Putin, and the Bush administration’s pushing of renewed nuclear
Michael Steinberg is a veteran activist and writer. Thanks to UKIMC and
the Bellona Foundation (www.bellona.org), an international environmental
group, for information used in the report.