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Nadezhda Kutepova and the growing danger for anti nuclear activists in Russia

CRACKDOWN IN RUSSIA: CRITICS ACCUSE NUCLEAR AUTHORITIES OF SOVIET-STYLE COVER-UPS AND HEAVY-HANDED TACTICS, Newsweek, BY MARC BENNETTS One thing that’s clear: The risks are growing for environmental and human rights activists who take on the powerful nuclear agency. Just ask Nadezhda Kutepova, 45, the head of a human rights organization that helped the victims of radiation pollution in and around Ozyorsk. “At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the reports about the radioactive pollution, but as soon as I heard that Rosatom had said everything was OK and that Mayak officials were denying an accident had taken place, I started to monitor the situation,” she tells Newsweek. “These are very cynical people.”

Kutepova was born in Ozyorsk in 1974. Her father worked at Mayak for 35 years and took part in the 1957 clean-up. He died of cancer in 1985, but the Soviet authorities never officially admitted that the illness was linked to his job. In 2007, after a long legal battle, Kutepova forced the government to recognize her father as a victim of occupational radiation sickness. Neither Kutepova nor her mother, however, received compensation.

Kutepova didn’t fight only for her family. She also tried to force Rosatom to pay for medical treatment for locals affected by illnesses related to decades of atomic pollution. In 2013, Kutepova discovered the first known case of third-generation radiation sickness in the region. The case involved a 6-year-old girl named Regina Khasanova who died of cancer. Medical experts said her death was caused by genetic mutations that resulted from the radiation her grandmother was exposed to during the 1957 clean-up at Mayak.

Two years later, Kutepova was forced to flee Russia after state TV accused her of trying to exploit the nuclear issue to foment revolution. Another report said she was attempting to destroy Russia’s nuclear deterrent on behalf of the United States. The purported evidence? Her human rights group received financing from the U.S. government–funded National Endowment for Democracy, which Russian officials have accused of seeking to topple Putin. (The NED says its aim is to promote worldwide democracy.) “We never covered up this funding,” Kutepova says. “We also received funds from organizations in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.”

One of the televised reports even showed the door to Kutepova’s apartment, which caused her to fear for her safety. Kutepova and her four children now live in France, where she has political asylum…….http://www.newsweek.com/crackdown-russia-critics-accuse-nuclear-authorities-soviet-style-cover-ups-and-755389

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December 22, 2017 - Posted by | civil liberties, PERSONAL STORIES, Russia

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