Welcome to The Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives
The Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives (CSGI) in Dimitrovgrad, Russia, is a public association created as a grassroots group of citizens the city and the surrounding areas of the Ulyanovsk region. The Center was registered by the Justice Administration of the regional authorities on April 18, 1997 (registration certificate 446).
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
CSGI activities include:
Center of Environmental Policy of Russi (Moscow), ISAR-Moscow, CAF Russian office, Center of Nuclear Ecology and Energy Policy of the International Social and Ecologic Union (Moscow), Antinuclear Campaign of ISEU, ISEU Nuclear and Radiation Safety program, Institute of Energy and Environment (USA), Green World public charity organization (Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad region), Citizen Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Krasnoyarsk), Nuclear Safety Movement (Chelyabinsk), Center for Safe Energy (USA), youth environmental club "Yozh" (Hedgehog) (Ulyanovsk), "The Volga Interregional Public Fund for Environmental Assistance (Ulyanovsk), Volga Environmental Information Agency of the Ecocenter DRONT (Nizhny Novgorod), and other public organizations.
A Brief History of our Work
Our organization is especially concerned about protection of the rights and interests of our region's citizens in light of the close proximity to Dimitrovgrad of an especially radiation-dangerous establishment - Nuclear Reactors Research Institute ('NIIAR'), one of Russia's largest nuclear research institutions.
Mikhail Piskunov, the leader of the Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives gained considerable experience in citizens' environmental rights protection while he worked in Dimitrovgrad as a regional newspaper correspondent. Thus, once he initiated examination of the reason for a human-caused erathquake in the west of Dimitrovgrad, with an epicenter near the Nuclear Reactor Research Institute. Upon request of a leading expert of the Earth Physics Institute, he collected data and sent it to Moscow. By a government order and with a recommendation of the Earth Physics Institute, an inter-departmental commission was created. The commission not only revealed the cause of the abnormal phenomenon, but also recommended a number of measures aimed at protection of the nuclear center installations in case of an earthquake, and at geophysical observation of the testing ground where liquid radioactive waste is pumped into the water table.
Later Mikhail Piskunov came out with an initiative of an airborn gamma survey of the town's territory and Dimitrovgrad's adjacent areas in connection with the work of NIIAR. The town's committee and the Council of Deputies supported the proposal. The study revealed 12 contaminated land lots in and around Dimitrovgrad. Most of them were eliminated.
Mikhail Piskunov's publications on environmental problems and protection of the citizens' environmental rights were highly appreciated at the All-Russian media contest "White Bear-97", where he was awraded with the second prize in the nomination "For Allegiance to Theme." The $500 prize he won was contributed to CSGI and the Citizens' Initiative information bulletin.
In the five years of its existence the Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives, led by Mikhail Piskunov, carried out seven projects, took part in a number of campaigns and actions. One of the projects was called "The Testing Ground Threatens People and the Volga." It included collecting a large amount of materials on NIIAR's testing ground, which poses a serious threat to the local population, as it is where liquid radioactive waste is pumped into the water table bed just near water wells supplying water to the wetsren part of the town. The newly-revealed and widely publicised facts allowed the environmental public prosecutor to initiate a court examination. The defendant's representatives admitted seven plaintiff's claims, and according to the court decision they will have to be fulfilled.
Other actions the CSGI carried out were named "The Reverse of the 'Plutonium Happiness'", "Radiation and Health", "Benefits for Dimitrovgrad" and others.
In April-May 1999 Piskunov was part of Russian NGO delegation to the U.S. where they met with representatives of Congress, the Department of Energy and several nuclear institutions. It was a good opportunity for him to learn from experiences of U.S. non-governmental groups about lobbying and protection of citizens' rights, especially in the regions where of location of military nuclear facilities. In November 1999 he, together with NGO leaders from the Ural, Siberia and the Volga regions took part in the program "Society - Government: Dialogues on National Security". It included negotiations with a number of hgh-rank officials, management of ministries and government agencies on the issues of radiation security of Russian nuclear facilities. In May-June 2000 M.A. Piskunov took part in Russian-American public hearings in Ekaterinburg as well as the 4th international radio-ecological conference in Krasnoyarsk, dedicated to the issues of weapons-grade plutonium disposal. In April 2001 he gave a speech at an international conference in Minsk dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. In November 2001 Piskunov took part in the Civil Forum that took place in the Kremlin.
In 2002 CSGI helped to hold a regional art contest on the subject "Russia's Future: Nuclear or Non-nuclear?" The contest was dedicated to the 16th anniversary of the Chernobyl acident. About 500 works of art from various towns and villages of the Ulyanovsk region took part in the contest. Based on the theme, participants had the freedom to express how they like their country to be. The majority of participants voted through their works for a non-nuclear future.
Currently the Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives employes 5 staff and 15 volunteers, among them scientists, former research fellows of the nuclear center, physicians, lawyers, journalists and other experts. A large amount of work is done on a volunteer basis, free of charge.
CSGI issues a 24-pages information bulletin "Citizen Initiative". The circulation of 3,000 copies is distributed free of charge among non-governmental groups, local authorities, schools, libraries and wide public in Ulyanovsk region as well as other parts of Russia. In the past three years we have published seven issues. Each issue is dedicated to a certain topic. The topics used include "Dimitrovgrad NIIAR Testing Ground is a Delayed Action Bomb", "Citizens Initiative to the Good of the Society", "The Reverse of the 'Plutonium Happiness'", "NGO and Media: Collaboration", "Radiation and Health", "NIIAR and Russia: the Plutonium Threat", "Nuclear Plants - the Road to a Debtor's Prison."
In April 2002 the Center for Assistance to Citizen Initiatives created a website: http://www.csgi.ru