Unfortunately, she continues, many parts of the region are still contaminated, and many people are getting sick as a result. But the authorities do not want to recognize their claims or pay compensation and consequently throw up all kinds of roadblocks in order to avoid having to do so, including demands for a genetic test beyond the means of most victims.
Planet of Hope was created in 1999 and registered the following year, the activist says. There have been three waves of repression against it, in 2004, 2008-2009, and now, in 2015. The latest is “the strongest” yet. Many people do not support this action, including the Chelyabinsk ombudsman for human rights, but they haven’t been able to block other officials from acting.
Ozersk is a small city and a closed one still. People know each other, and some support her group while others see what is being done to it as pointing to a new era of political repressions, Kutepova says. Those who have been helped “are sincerely sympathetic,” she says. And they are asking “how will we live and who will defend us” if you are closed down?
Others who see the moves against Planet of Hope are more hostile as they calculate against whom they might move next. “Now I understand what 1937 [the high point of Stalin’s Great Terror] was like,” the human rights and environmental defense activist says.