Monday, August 19, 2019

Moscow Creating Conditions in Middle Volga for Repetition of 1957 Kyshtym Disaster, Regionalists Warn

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – In 1957, a Soviet dump for radioactive materials at the Urals city of Kyshtym exploded, contaminating an area in which some 270,000 and leading to a dramatic rise in the incidence of cancer among them, an event usually listed only after Chernobyl and Fukushima in the ranking of nuclear disasters.

            Now, Moscow wants to build a similar facility at Kambarka, and the Free Idel-Ural movement has warned that despite the promises of Russian officials, the same thing could happen again, reminding people of the Middle Volga that they can still block the construction of the site but won’t be able to block cancer if the site is built and a disaster happens.

            The appeal of the regionalist movement is available atснискает-ли-камбарка-печальную-славу/#more-1352.  It has been reposted and disseminated by  and

            The residents of Kambarka, a small city of 13,000 in the Udmurt Republic, have already mobilized to block the construction of the facility, one they say will require in the first instance the building of “a new morgue and a new cemetery” if it goes ahead, but Moscow likely can get its way against so few people so far away from the capital (

            And that is why Free Idel-Ural’s efforts are so important. The movement’s declaration says that “residents of Izhevsk, Sarapul, Neftekamsk, Naberezhny Chelny, Dyurtulli, and many other population points of the region are in the zone of potential radiation” from an accident at the proposed plant.

            “Let no Russians, Tatars, Bashkirs or even Maris be glad that Kambarka is somewhere far away and that this doesn’t concern them,” the declaration says. The planned facility at Kambarka “is a threat not for Udmurtia but for the entire Idel-Ural,” the historical name of the Middle Volga lands between the Volga and the Urals.

            According to the movement, “It is not yet too late to save the situation. For this the population must show its will and character. Don’t let [the Moscow planners] begin construction of this dangerous complex. If necessary,” it continues, “physically block the approach to the Kambarka factory: don’t let them begin any work.”

            What makes this story noteworthy is this: The people of Kambarka may be able to attract some limited media attention to their cause given the sensitivity of anything having to do with nuclear issues, but they by themselves will not be able to prevent Moscow from going ahead with its project.

            But if people across the region join together in protest as the Free Idel-Ural movement is proposing, the center will lose much of its ability to continue its divide-and-rule approach and even be forced to modify its plans. That is why Moscow has worked so hard to suppress regional movements – and also why regional movements in the Russian Federation are so important. 

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