On the 23rd of May, 2020, the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons held its Annual General Meeting online for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.  A large part of the meeting was dedicated to reflecting on the implications of covid-19 on the work of nuclear abolition.  Oleg Bodrov of Public Council of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland, near St Petersburg, Russia shared his views in a pre-recorded interview.  We share it here for readers of Pressenza.

Transcript below


Dear colleagues, my name is Oleg Bodrov, I am a physicist, ecologist and peace movement activist from the south coast of the Gulf of Finland, in the Eastern Part of the Baltic Sea Region, close to St. Petersburg, Russia.  I am the Chairman of the Public Council of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland.

I worked in the Russian nuclear industry for 17 years but left it after the Chernobyl disaster.  For the past 30 years, I have been working on issues of environmental protection, nuclear safety and the prohibition of nuclear weapons.  I live on the border of the confrontation between NATO and Russia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.

So, the point which I will present just now, will be based on my personal experience and activities in the last years.

First of all I’d like to say something about the status of the Russian nuclear industry in the context of nuclear weapons and the export of “civil nuclear technologies” before the NPT Review Conference.

First of all Russia, according to the official doctrine, could be the first to use nuclear weapons.  It is a very important message.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation declared that: “The prohibition of nuclear weapons is contrary to our national interests”.  And the president of the Russian Federation has demonstrated his psychological readiness to use nuclear weapons. He has personally launched four transcontinental missiles from submarines, air and ground-based facilities.  Last but not least, the Russian state corporation, Rosatom, has agreements to build 36 nuclear power plants outside of Russia in different countries.  Consumers of the nuclear electricity from these nuclear power plants outside of Russia may be investors in Russian military programs.

So the top level of Russian politicians are already ready to use nuclear weapons and develop the nuclear infrastructure outside of Russia which is possible to support Russian military programmes.  This is number 1 of my message to my colleagues.

Some lessons after the pandemic Covid-19.

All countries, including nuclear weapons countries, have been powerless against the new virus.

Covid19 has stimulated the development of the economic crisis, and leaders of nuclear countries are using the crisis to find enemies outside of their counties.  Thus, instead of joining forces against the virus, the political confrontation between countries deepens. What can we do, our international peace movement?

First of all I’d like to say that we have a SICK planet and we have no planet B!  So now we need to not only protect our planet from nuclear weapons, but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stop “civil nuclear” expansion, which is part of military nuclear industry. We need to provide safe decommissioning of the more 400 nuclear power plants on our planet, and we need to promote sustainable development of our countries.

What is reasonable to do in this case?

I think, first of all, we need to develop cooperation with our colleagues from non-governmental organisations working in the field of protection of traditional lifestyles of indigenous peoples, NGOs against climate change, and NGOs against the export of nuclear power plants.

It is reasonable to stimulate transboundary cooperation between NGOs, municipal and regional authorities close to the border between NATO and non-NATO countries.

I think that the politicians of NATO and Russia are trying to make us enemies 75 years after the Second World War.  I think let’s hold hands, friends, in Russia, Europe, China and USA.  We are friends and not enemies!

Thank you