Target: Police force in Pervouralsk, Russia
Goal: Protect the rights of environmental activists in Russia
Stepan Chernogubov, a 26-year-old student and eco-blogger was brutally attacked and beaten unconscious by three unknown men in the small industrial town of Pervouralsk, Russia. Chernogubov was investigating the pollution stream from a chromium plant, Russian Chrome, which has been contaminating the scenic Chusovaya River and turning the water a dark shade of red. This petition demands justice for this horrific crime by persecuting Chernogubov’s assailants, as well as creating a less hostile atmosphere for environmental activism in Russia.
In Russia, activists endanger themselves by calling attention to environmental concerns. Chernogubov believes his attack was an act of revenge for his coverage of the company’s polluting practices. According to The Washington Post, “Russia requires no environmental impact statements on new development, and activists can’t turn to the courts for relief because the legal system reliably serves those in power.” Affiliations between businesses and politicians create significant obstacles to passing environmental legislation and environmental activists attract negative attention and violence when they oppose local business interests.
After writing about the plant’s pollution, Chernogubov was warned by an aide to the town’s mayor and asked to remove the post, but refused. The Mayor is thought to have ties with the chromium factory and didn’t want the issue brought to public awareness. After receiving a government tip-off about an illegal waste dump taking place at the plant, Chernogubov visited the site, took photographs of a “pipe leaking orange chemical sludge” into the river, and posted the story to his blog.
Chernogubov’s brutal assault occurred shortly after. When police arrived at the scene, one of the attackers showed a police ID and none of the men were detained. The victim’s skull was fractured and several teeth were knocked out. Following the attack, he was brought by criminal investigators to a police station where he was interrogated and threatened for four hours without receiving medical attention.
Chernogubov isn’t the first activist to expose the pollution from Russian Chrome. Greenpeace Russia recently revealed the startling pollution levels in Chusovaya River where, “chrome content in the water is almost 100 times above the maximum permissible concentration.” Despite these efforts, legal impunity and lax environmental regulations have allowed the plant to continue its harmful operations. Sign this petition to insist on justice for Chernogubov and to raise environmental consciousness in Russia.
Dear Pervouralsk Police Force,
We demand justice for Stepan Chernogubov, the environmental activist who investigated pollution by a chromium factory and was consequently assaulted. His aggressive treatment by your police officers following the attack and lack of legal consequences for the assailants reveals an unjust legal system and complete disregard of this individuals’ right to free speech.
Chernogubov’s efforts to pursue the truth and raise awareness of industrial pollution in his city are praiseworthy. In spite of censorship attempts by local officials, he was committed to publishing his story about dangerous pollution practices threatening the Chusovaya River. We hope this incident will raise awareness of violence against activists, as well as the corrupt government that allows environmental threats and abuse to be trumped by powerful corporate interests.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection via Wikimedia Commons