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Secrecy vs. the need for ecological information: challenges to environmental activism in Russia.

Published Article
Environmental Change and Security Project report
Publication Date
PMID: 12321718
  • Case Studies
  • Communication
  • Developed Countries
  • Eastern Europe
  • Economic Conditions
  • Economic Factors
  • Environment
  • Environmental Degradation
  • Europe
  • Information Distribution
  • Macroeconomic Factors
  • National Security
  • New Independent States
  • Political Factors
  • Research Methodology
  • Russia
  • Studies


This article identifies the lessons learned from the Nikitin case study in Russia. The Nikitin case involves the analysis of sources of radioactive contamination in several Russian counties and in the Russian Northern Fleet. Norway was interested in the issue due to proximity to the storage sites. The issue involved national security and environmental protection. It was learned that mixing national security issues with environmental issues offers dangerous and multiple challenges. Environmental groups must build relationships with a wide audience. International security policy must include the issues of globalization of trade and the spread of environmental problems into the global commons (oceans and atmosphere). The risk of an environmentally dangerous accident as a consequence of Cold War activities is greater than the risk of nuclear war. Secrecy in military affairs is not justified when there is inadequate storage of nuclear weapons and contaminated materials. In Russia, the concern is great due to their economic transition and shortages of funds for even the most basic needs, which excludes nuclear waste clean up. The Bellona Foundation studied the extent of nuclear pollution from military nuclear reactors in the Kola peninsula of northwest Russia, in 1994 and 1996. Russian security police arrested one of the report authors for alleged national security violations. A valuable lesson learned was that local Russian environmental groups needed international support. The military nuclear complex poses an enormous hazard. Limiting inspections is an unacceptable national security risk. The new Russian law on state secrets is too broad.

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