April 26, 2006

Police break up anti-nuclear Red Square protest

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police on Wednesday dragged away
activists protesting on Red Square against atomic power on the
20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Thirteen young protesters from Greenpeace chained
themselves to railings around St Basil's Cathedral, a central
Moscow landmark famous for its multicoloured onion domes,
before plain clothes agents told them to move on.

Unsanctioned protests are forbidden on Red Square, which
was a favorite gathering place for Soviet dissidents. The
leather-jacketed agents and uniformed Kremlin guards used bolt
cutters to unchain the activists, whom they dragged away.

The 13 activists were wearing yellow t-shirts with
individual letters that, when taken together, spelled out "No
to Chernobyls" in a reflection of green groups' opposition to
world plans to build a new generation of nuclear reactors.

Russia is planning 40 more reactors, and is still using 11
reactors of the type used at Chernobyl, which was the world's
worst civilian nuclear disaster, spewing radiation across

The agents also led away photographers and cameramen
filming the protest. "They said they were not detaining us,
just taking us away for a conversation," one photographer said.

The main events marking the anniversary of the disaster are
taking place in Ukraine -- home to the remains of the power
station's fourth reactor which contaminated swathes of
territory in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Concerns over soaring global energy needs and security of
fossil fuel supply have put nuclear power back at the heart of
the global energy debate despite the risk of Chernobyl-like
disasters and the nuclear waste that humanity will bequeath to
future generations.

Both Russia and the United States have called on fellow
industrialized powers to embrace nuclear energy to guarantee
stable supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions.