By Paul Goble
In what Aleksey Tarasov of Novaya Gazeta says is the opening of “another ecological front,” villages in the southern portions of Krasnoyarsk Kray are rising in protest “one after another” against plans by businesses to look for gold, something residents are sure will despoil the environment there.
The residents who include both Old Believers and “new age” types who moved to the area recently because of its pristine environment – some call it “Russian America” – have joined hands to oppose the gold mining company and demand that it reconsider its plans (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/09/27/82131-zolotoe-dno).
Arguing that “the true gold for the state and sane leaders of any rank are people and the well-being of the land in which they live and labor,” the protesters point to the ways in which gold prospecting and mining in neighboring areas has destroyed not only the environment but the lives of the people in it.
As with most such protests, this one started in one village but within a few days, it spread to others as word spread about what the gold mining companies are planning. The villagers point out that they have not only preserved their way of live but are developing it by leaps and bounds with big plans for the future. Gold mining would get in the way.
At present, they say, “more than 5000 people live” where the miners want to operate, “and natural growth exceeds the figure for the country as a whole by six or seven times. Our villages actively take part in the cultural and sports life of the district and kray” and we are reviving folkloric productions. “There is even a ballet school.”
In the past, the older residents and the new arrivals often clashed, but on the issue of gold mining, they have come together and left their other disputes in the past. The new arrivals often have good PR skills and they are deploying them in support of this common opposition to untrammeled development.
Because of these skills, this “new front” in the environmental wars sweeping Russia from Shiyes outward may soon heat up even more than the anti-trash movement in the northern portions of the country.