Newsweek

Radiation Nation

Why Russia is having a meltdown over activists protesting its state nuclear agency.
PER_Russia_01_51369565 Source: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty

When Russia’s FSB security service raided Fyodor Maryasov’s apartment in Siberia last year, the authorities seized his computer and a scathing report he had compiled about Rosatom, the Kremlin-owned nuclear corporation. Among other things, the authorities accused him of inciting hatred against nuclear industry employees, an unusual charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. “They accused me of revealing state secrets in my report,” the 49-year-old environmental activist says. “But every single thing in it was taken from open sources.”

The raid came as activists are increasingly criticizing Rosatom over a range of issues, including the way it handles nuclear waste. This fall, for instance, critics alleged that one of its facilities was the source of a mysterious cloud of radioactive pollution that drifted across Europe.

Russian authorities have responded to these critics with tough tactics—including raids and smear campaigns—and in recent years, they’ve employed similar measures against other environmental groups. Rosatom says it was in no way trying to stifle dissent. “We, “and we welcome open dialogue with civil society, including with those who are opposed to nuclear power.”

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