Banned on the news

Igor Kudrik and Aleksander Nikitin are doing their very best to uncover Russia’s dirty secrets – which isn’t easy, when even the list of secrets is secret.

Igor Kudrik and Aleksander Nikitin

Igor Kudrik and Aleksander Nikitin. Jan Gunnar Furuly right.

When the two Bellona-activists spoke at GIJC Friday afternoon, they told some unbelievable stories from their work the last 15 to 20 years.

- The Mayak site is rated amongst the most polluted on earth, and children are bathing in the Theka River, even if there’s a lot of chemical disposal in it, Kudrik says.

Bellona is not a very popular organisation amongst officials in Russia, the two men told, and even though they are grateful to the work of investigative Russian reporters, they still have some difficulties with the media.

- We have heard that we, amongst others, are on a list of organisations the journalists are not really allowed to mention on the news. Sometimes, if you are supposed to be interviewed on TV, they will only film you from the neck and up, to avoid the logo on your t-shirt, Kudrik says.

Nikitin and Kudrik said that even if they are not journalists, they use a lot of journalistic methods in their work, and they meet a lot of the same challenges as journalists when they investigate the threats caused by dangerous disposal of nuclear waste.

- It is not easy to go underground and dig in the secrets when even the list of secrets is secret. There is no problem going to Russia as a reporter, the problem is that you will not get permission to go anywhere or see anything. You need good personal connections, or to use bribes, Kudrik concludes.