Belarus: activists focus on fight against nuclear power


21 years ago, on April 26, 1986, the catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine,took place. Byelorussians were to suffer most from this worst nuclear disaster in history of mankind. Since the 1990's, the national-liberal opposition to the regime of president Lukashenko has been organizing an annual march called "the Chernobyl way ". More and more activists circles are participating and focus on resisting nuclear power. Antinuclear movement in Belarus,let alone social movements of the most direct victims of Chernobyl, is very weak and isolated.

Autonomous Action -
Purpose of the annual demonstration is to gain public attention to the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, to criticize the government for the failure in liquidation and minimization of these consequences and voice protest against the nuclear plants of the government.

On December 1, 2006, Alexander Lukashenko declared that a new nuclear power plant will be constructed in Belarus. Engineering works on prospective places of accommodation of the nuclear power plant, and negotiations with the Russian and French suppliers of the equipment are conducted right now. Building of the plant is supposed to begin in 2008. Right now is the best possible opportunity to halt this process, and this is what several organizations in Belarus (including anarchists) are attempting to do.

Since 1996 anarchists have taken part in these annual Chernobyl commemoration demonstrations, but always in a separate bloc and with their own slogans. Purpose of the anarchists is to gain attention to those problems which are least interesting to leaders of the opposition. For example, to the problem of Chernobyl revisionism - conscious revision and underestimation of consequences of the accident.

During all years of governance by Lukashenko, an infringement of rights of the people who have suffered from Chernobyl has been going on. The program of resettlement of inhabitants of the regions polluted by radiation is halted. Healthcare of victims worsens. Benefits and allowances to victims of disaster and participants of liquidation of its consequences, which used to be provided by laws in Belarus, are reduced and cancelled. More and more often we hear official pseudo-scientific claims that all illnesses of victims are due to "mental issues", instead of constant influence of radiation.

We resolutely oppose this "Chernobyl revisionism" and infringement of social guarantees for victims. Not only the Lukashenko government is involved in this, but also the international organizations "helping" Belarus (Representation of UN in Belarus, World Bank, IAEA).

The main themes of anarchist mobilization this year is protest against the governmental plans to construct a nuclear power plant in Belarus, and protest against canceling benefits and allowances to people who have suffered from the Chernobyl disaster. It is also an occasion to spread information about alternative and decentralized forms of energy production. At last, we wish to talk about alternatives to the centralized nuclear energy, and to spread ideas about decentralized alternatives, which are able to end mutual power dependence between regions. We will create initiatives which apply alternative (small, ecologically and effective) energy sources.

The political climate in Belarus is adverse for any social and civil activity, especially what comes to street actions of direct action. In conditions of Belarus it not efficient to organize small actions which will not last more than five minutes. Longer lasting but small actions in crowded places will almost certainly be brutally dispersed, most of their participators arrested. Only mass demonstrations allow to avoid general arrest of activists.
As said, antinuclear movement in Belarus is very weak and isolated. Autonomous Action is asking activists to show solidarity and, if possible, come to Belarus to participate in the demonstration.
The real sensation of the international solidarity (and not just humanitarian help) can really help with building a antinuclear movement. Participation of activists from abroad will enable anarchists of Belarus to feel friendly support, very important during the present hard times. And, the international support in our action may increase interest from local and foreign media..