Putin the Blame on Enviros
Environmentalists in Russia are nervous about the new Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Critics say that when Putin was head of the FSB security service, formerly the KGB, he allowed the agency to harass and prosecute enviros. Last summer, Putin said environmental groups were fronts for Western spy agencies. Human-rights activists say the FSB’s treatment of enviros under Putin’s leadership suggests a troubling lack of democratic principles. Alexander Nikitin, who was imprisoned in 1996 for revealing information about the military’s questionable handling of nuclear waste, was one of the FSB’s most high-profile targets. Enviros and human-rights activists rejoiced when a judge exonerated Nikitin on Dec. 29. One day later, prosecutors filed an appeal with the Russian supreme court, but Nikitin and his lawyer believe the verdict will stand.