Author`s name Michael Simpson

Corporations are Main Violators of Rights and Freedoms

When corporations stand above the government, the latter starts defending the interests of corporations not people
PRAVDA.Ru interviews co-chairman of the Eco-Defense international group Vladimir Slivyak

- Tell us about the objectives the Eco-Defense international public organization pursues.

Our main objective is to prevent liquidation of different ecological systems by ecologically-unfriendly industrial branches. In other words, we protect the nature from large-scale negative influence of the industry. We don't treat the interests of people and of the nature as different, as people are part of the nature, of the ecological system; what is bad for the nature cannot be good for people. We think that the conflict rests upon a different problem: a group of the most cynical members of humanity taking the leading positions in state-run or private corporations use or simply destroy great scope of natural resources for the sake of super-profits. These are such corporations as Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry, LUKOIL, McDonald's and Coca Cola. The tactics of our activity includes propaganda campaigns that help us highlight the most urgent ecological and social problems that arise as a result of activity of this or that industry. We give wide publicity to the problems and try to make corporations and the authority solve the problems with ecologically safe and socially acceptable measures.

One of the basic principles we stick to is non-violence, because force is a poor instrument to settle any kind of problems.

- Eco-Defense is dealing not only with ecology problems but is also involved in law enforcement activity. Are the spheres connected?

Both spheres are inter-related directly: people have the right for healthy environment; consequently those who pollute the environment are lawbreakers.  We think that corporations aiming at high super-profits are the main lawbreakers. The time has gone when governments ruled the world and were considered the main violators of different rights and freedoms of people. Now owners of financial flows are ruling the world, the financial flows are concentrated in large corporations. Some of the corporations are still in the hands of national governments, but majority of them are already independent from politicians. This may sound sad and funny but in the modern world it is the government that guarantees rights and freedoms to people, in a democratic society at least. However, when corporations stand above the government, the latter starts defending the interests of corporations not people. So, if the whole of the government is ready to defend the interests of corporations there should be some other authority that will protect people's rights. Ecological movements in Russia no way serve this authority.

- Is it difficult to be a defender of the ecological rights in today's Russia? What is you personal experience in the sphere?

The experience of my colleagues and my own experience demonstrates this is rather dangerous occupation; people can be taken to prison even for spreading information of this kind. You probably know environmental activists Nikitin and Pasko who spent some time in prisons; however, even repressive measures have been applied to other activists and experts. Fortunately, there were just few instances of this kind.

- What are the most pressing ecological problems of Russia that demand immediate solution?

First of all, this is a complex of problems connected with nuclear power engineering; utilization of nuclear wastes; dismantling of old nuclear reactors and clearing of radioactively contaminated territories. This is actually important to restore the ban for import of spent nuclear fuel. Second, these are problems connected with oil production: large-scale oil pollution of part of Siberia; the number of animal species that are becoming extinct is increasing; we are losing unique nature all over the country because of oil production and transportation. The third problem is air pollution by industrial enterprises and automobile transport and problems that this pollution entails.

- Do you think that Russia's ecological movements have serious influence upon the process of making political and economic decisions today?

We can say that ecological movements are regaining their positions in politics that they had lost in the mid-1990s when the Russian authorities were maximally ecology-focused when making decisions and the president had an ecology advisor of his own. The ecological movements haven't yet entered this level, but the process is developing and we may soon restore the previous and may be even higher level.

- What are the main objectives of the Eco-Defense movement?

In the nearest time we plan to actively propagate ecology-safe energy sources. Besides, we are now working on a wide program for environmental education for school teachers. We also plan to issue magazines, books and newspapers in Russia's regions. We will keep on working on our Internet projects. We will pursue the same objectives: prevent import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia.