by Damien Sharkov
September 7, 2016
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Russia's Green activists are accusing U.S. Green Party leader Jill Stein of neglecting their struggle, after a series of statements she made, calling for closer cooperation with the Kremlin at a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Stein has made statements, echoing the Kremlin’s criticism of the U.S., as her programme calls American policy in the Middle East “a futile quest for military and economic domination,” while she has urged for collaboration with Moscow at a dinner with Putin last December. Stein is currently campaigning as a candidate for White House ahead of the November elections.
Leading Russian environmental activists Yevgenia Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova posted an open letter on Tuesday, expressing alarm at Stein’s apparent one-sided criticisms, asking her to clarify her position on Facebook.
On the other hand, the forest fires that ravaged Russia during record drought and heat waves this summer threatened not only forests, but new radiation challenges as the wildfires ripped through areas affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and heat dried out lakes and rivers – long dumping grounds for radioactive waste – as irradiated sediment became airborne....
“We were accused of being enemies of the people and of working for Western intelligence....
In the words of Nadezhda Kutepova, who heads the NGO Planet of Hopes (Planeta Nadezhd) in Ozyorsk, a town in Chelyabinsk Region in the South Urals, her organisation is essentially operating “behind enemy lines.” Ozyorsk is a restricted-access location hosting the Russian spent nuclear fuel reprocessing enterprise Mayak and is frequently cited as the most contaminated place on earth. Environmental activities in this area bear special significance and, Kutepova says, the problem of intimidation by the authorities is an indicator of how effective her organisation’s work must be.
It was extremely difficult when my professional community hadn’t spoken in my defence… when the FSB went after me. Many of my colleagues, when seeing me, would cross the street. I was accused of receiving a grant from the CIA, almost,” Tsepilova said.
-- Russia’s ecological big-leaguers join forces to withstand state’s mounting pressure on environmental NGOs at Bellona’s St. Petersburg conference, by Maria Kaminskaya
“As environmentalists and human rights defenders, we often support Green candidates all over the world when they run for local, national or continental election,” the two activists wrote. “However, we are asking ourselves if we can support your candidature for the Presidency of the United States of America.
“We have carefully read your program and your website and we have to admit that we are deeply shocked by the position you expressed during your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Mr. Vladimir Putin,” they added.
Chirikova is an award-winning environmentalist who launched one of the most memorable environmentalist protests, against the government’s plans to construct a superhighway between Moscow and St Petersburg through the Khimki Forest, known as Moscow’s Green Belt. Meanwhile, Kutepova has clashed with officials over pollution from the accident-prone Mayak nuclear plant.
Both have fled Russia due to pressure from the government to cease their campaign activities.
“By silencing Putin’s crimes you are silencing our struggle,” the two activists wrote. “By shaking his hand and failing to criticize his regime you are becoming his accomplice. By forgetting what international solidarity means you are insulting the Russian environmental movement.
“How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners, or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists? Is it fair to speak with him about ‘geopolitics’ and not mention new Russian laws against freedom of speech, restrictions on NGOs and activists, or the shameful law that forbids ‘homosexual propaganda’?”
Stein also posted on Facebook that she “was in Russia to speak at an RT conference along with many other people, including many fellow activists from the peace movement.” While there, she shared a video message on YouTube – recorded from Moscow’s Red Square – in which she called for an end to militarism, and for an international order based on respect for human rights and international law.
-- Democrats’ McCarthyism Hits Greens’ Stein, by Nat Parry
The pair also demanded that the U.S. Green Party clarify its position on Putin, to demonstrate it is opposed to the “anti-democratic and anti-environmental” aspects of the Russian administration.
A Green Party spokesman, brushed off the criticism, telling Radio Liberty that he thinks “the letter exaggerates Dr. Stein's alleged deference to President Putin.”