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An article from Do or Die Issue 6. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 122-127.

Introducing... the Unstoppable Ecodefense!

Ecodefense! is an international, non-governmental, non-profit, environmental organization founded in 1990 in Kaliningrad (former Koenigsberg) Russia. We stand on principles of deep ecology and biocentrism, combined with social responsibility and justice. We work to inform and involve more ordinary citizens in environmental and social activity through the organizing of educational events, environmental campaigns, non-violent direct actions and the spreading of environmental information. We are working to stop violations of human rights, and insists that the rights to a healthy environment and information are fundamental rights that must be available for every single person.

Ecodefense! urges: We have no right to any compromises in the defense of our Mother-Earth, at least because this is only Earth we can live on!

Campaigns we took part in

Against the pulp/paper mill 'N1' in Kaliningrad, 1990-1991, in which about 10,000 of Kaliningrad's citizens participated for two years, and which resulted in the mill being closed down by the spring of 1991

Against the nuclear plant in Nuzhny Novgorod (Russia) in the spring of 1991; the plant construction was closed later the same year.

An Action Camp in the summer of 1991 against the chemical plant in Zaporozhie (Ukraine); this was the third largest chemical plant in the USSR. The plant was closed down after the 10-day occupation of plant chimneys by activists.

The 'Save the trees!' Campaign, 1992-1994, which succeeded in preventing the clearcutting of about 30% of the forests in the Kaliningrad region.

An Action Camp (summer 1992), against the construction of the extremely dangerous Russian-Swedish plant "Viking Raps" in Lipetsk (Russia). The construction was halted after different actions, including the occupation of the office of the governor of Lipetsk region.

A 1993 media campaign against the construction of an oil terminal and new nuclear plant in the Kaliningrad region: construction on both of the projects was frozen. In the case of the terminal, even such powerful institutions as the New York City Bank and British Petroleum gave up in the struggle against the environmentalists. But now, in 1997, this project has reemerged amongst local politicians. Ecodefense! is therefore in the process of starting a new oil campaign. Ecodefense! is sticking to its own original position: oil drilling is one of the most dangerous businesses for the marine ecosystem - stop all the drilling in the Baltic Sea!

An Action Camp (summer 1993) in the Samarskaya Luka National Park, near Togliatti (Russia), where the construction industry was exploding the mountains. The explosions were stopped.

The 'Save the Wolves!' Campaign (1994-1997), which is currently working to prevent the hunting of wolves in the Kaliningrad region.

In the summer of 1996, Ecodefense! urged the Kaliningrad authorities to refuse permission to enter its seaport for a ship carrying uranium. After two weeks of campaigning, supported by many international environmental organizations from the USA to Africa, we won: the ship did not get permission and left Kaliningrad waters. The nuclear industry lost at least a million dollars.

A lawsuit was later iniated against us, but there was victory in the court too. At the present time we are working closely with the Kaliningrad parliament, in order to persuade them to adopt a new law on nuclear transport.

Environmental Education Campaign

Since 1993 Ecodefense! has devoted large resources to educational activity. Specialists in the organization developed and implemented an award-winning educational program for kindergartens. This program is now implemented in 5 kindergartens in Kaliningrad and has been published as a book. We are also working with schoolteachers, running year-long teacher training programs on 'game-methods for environmental education'.

The Climate Change Threat

Paying attention to the growing threat of climate change, Ecodefense! started related activity in 1994. Some months before the United Nations Climate Summit [in Berlin - see DoD 5], we organized the 'Climate Tour' in the ex-USSR, together with other European environmental groups. Activists travelled through the former Soviet Union, meeting different local environmental groups and asking them to come to Germany to support the AOSIS [Association of Small Island States - those nations rightly terrified by the prospect of imminent non - existence in the 21st Century!] protocol, and the other documents proposed to the UN for ratification by environmentalists. In the beginning of 1995, the report on [the effects of?] Climate Change processes in the Kaliningrad region was prepared right before the UN Climate Summit in Germany took place.

An Ecodefense! representative was working as an official NGO observer during the UN Climate Summit in Germany. Ecodefense! took part in the blockading of the buses of the UN delegates from industrialised countries - because they themselves were blocking AOSIS protocol ratification by the Summit (The AOSIS protocol requires a 20% reduction in the CO2 emissions from industrialised countries before 2005).

Energy

Ecodefense! prepared their report on the energy situation in Kaliningrad in late1996. This stated that Kaliningrad's energy sector needs urgent restructuring and that top priority must be given to alternative sources of energy, and to the development of energy-efficiency technologies rather than to traditional fossil fuels. Otherwise, the energy sector will face a large crisis by 2010. In late 1997 we will release a new report on the opportunities for the development of alternative energy sources in Kaliningrad.

Youth Involvement

In 1995 and 1996, in cooperation with other groups in the region, Ecodefense! organised two summer youth camps in the Kuronian Spit National Park. In these camps we keep the focus on education about environmental problems, and the actions required to solve such problems.

Chemical Weapons in the Baltic Sea

In 1992-1993, Ecodefense! collected a database on the chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea by Russia, America and the UK after World War II. The threat to the flora and fauna of the Baltic is increadibly high, and we have been urging the decision makers in the Baltics to take urgent action to prevent the danger.

Work with Information

Ecodefense! has always paid a lot of attention to collecting and spreading environmental information worldwide. It publishes electronic newsletters in Russian, English and German. One of the focuses of its work is to spread information in different languages through the WorldWideWeb - particularly Russian, because there is a lack of information in Russian on the Internet. We also publish a journal 4 times per year [I think Do or Die needs some lessons from them then! Although it is obviously much more sophisticated to operate on an 18 month rather than a quarterly schedule] and, in cooperation with other environmental groups, books and other materials. To help its work with citizens and the mass media, "Ecodefense!inform" Press-Agency was formed in 1993. This agency is involved in different projects of cooperative environmental newspaper publishing in Kaliningrad.

Contact

Ecodefense!
Moskovsky prospekt 120-34, 236006 Kaliningrad
Russia
Tel/Fax: 7 (0012) 43-72-86
Email: ecodefense@glas.apc.org


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