Fedor Maryasov and Andrey Talevlin, Russia
Extremist and foreign agent – these are the terms with which the Russian state power tries to discredit, criminalize and muzzle Fedor Maryasov and Andrey Talevlin.
Fedor Maryazov grew up in the uranium mining town of Tsarafshan in Uzbekistan and saw in his youth that fish were disfigured by genetic anomalies in the lake in which he and his friends swam. The authorities remained silent. Today he lives and works as a journalist in Zheleznogorsk (formerly Krasnoyarsk-26), in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, a closed nuclear town with a population of around 85,000. The city was founded in the 1950s to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Even today it can only be entered with a special pass.
Maryazov takes his work seriously, which is no easy task in Russia. For years and with more than 100 investigative contributions, he makes public in Russia and in front of the whole world the secret plans of the state nuclear company Rosatom to build an underground repository for nuclear waste. The public participation was zero, critical voices were not wanted. In 2013 he tries to prevent the plan with a petition signed by 117,000 people.
In the same year he produces the documentary film "Digging Our Own Grave" together with the NGO Green World. This is also about the questionable machinations of Rosatom. In 2014 he finally publishes the nuclear-critical report "The Siberian Gambit", which for the first time brings together all the activities of the mining and chemical combine in Zheleznogorsk from 1950 to the present. At the same time, he ensures that the violations he uncovers are published in the mass media - with the names of those responsible, such as officials and scientists, who have taken it upon themselves to cover up information.
The Russian state is not "amused" by so much resistance. Maryazov is accused of incompetence, lying and forgery, the secret service puts him under pressure, the Federal Security Service searches his apartment and confiscates his computer. The Russian state investigates and accuses him of "extremism". He faces heavy fines and up to five years in prison.
Andrey Talewlin studied law in Chelyabinsk, about a hundred kilometres south of Mayak. There, on 29 September 1957, a tank with radioactive waste exploded, one of the worst accidents of the nuclear age. The volcanic explosion can be seen hundreds of kilometres away and is officially declared an auroral phenomenon. Perhaps precisely because 20,000 square kilometres around Mayak are radioactively contaminated anyway, Rosatom wants to reprocess spent fuel elements there. Talewlin organizes the protest and participates in non-violent actions. He is arrested several times, but he can still teach at the university as an associate professor for ecological land law.
Talewlin uses his reputation and represents the public and Russian NGOs in court on several occasions. In 2002, for example, the lawyer succeeded in getting the Russian Supreme Court to revoke the import permit for 370 tons of nuclear waste from the Hungarian nuclear power plant Pak. In 2010, the German government learns about his resistance for the first time: After an international campaign co-initiated by him, it abandons the plan to send irradiated nuclear fuel from a research reactor to the reprocessing plant in Mayak. In 2013, Oleg Bodrov's NGO Green World - he was awarded the NFFA in 2010 - finally fends off the claims of the reprocessing company JSC Ecomet-S with his help. It demanded financial compensation for the fact that Green World had ruined its reputation. And in the spring of 2020 he is one of the initiators of an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin: 47 NGOs from Russia, Germany and the Netherlands demand in it to stop the export of depleted uranium from the uranium enrichment plant Urenco to Russia's closed nuclear cities.
The Russian state power has already granted the battlesome lawyer the status of a "foreign agent" in 2015. This open threat can also be seen as an award for the fact that his commitment against the machinations of the Russian nuclear industry and for an intact environment is having a great effect. What can be said in the same way for the classification of Fedor Maryasov as an "extremist". As dubious as these awards are, the Nuclear Free Future Award is one that is beyond all doubt. We bow to them and their unbending will.