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Protesters Condemn G8 Support of Nuclear, Coal, Oil

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, July 17, 2006 (ENS) - Demonstrators blockading a main thoroughfare in St. Petersburg were arrested on Sunday as they protested the Group of Eight, G8, statement on Global Energy Security that includes support for nuclear power. They blocked the entrance of a hotel on the Nevsky Prospekt which was used by participants of the G8 summit.

Protesters from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Minsk, Chishinau, Warsaw, Kiev, Cardiff, and Berlin took part in the demonstration, displaying posters saying "No G8!" in Russian and English.

Russian riot police arrested all of the 37 activists and cleared the roadway. Some of the activists sat down and had to be carried away, others were forced to leave the street in what they said was a brutal manner.

"We wanted to voice our demands to not develop nuclear energy," said Olga Miryasova from Russia's Network Against the G8.

Russian police close in on demonstrators blocking Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg on Sunday. (Photo courtesy Indymedia Russia)

The protesters staged their demonstration to coincide with the G8 summit at Strelna where the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union wound up their three day meeting today. The sit-in took place despite the growing suppression of dissent by the Russian government in recent years. Russian authorities preemptively arrested over 200 activists before the G8 summit and forbade protesters from leaving an alternative conference in St. Petersburg held on Saturday.

The G8 statement on global energy security advocates nuclear energy as one way to address global climate change, yet environmental activists warn that nuclear energy cannot be considered a positive way to reduce carbon emissions and combat global climate change.

"Nuclear reactors are dangerous, extremely expensive, take many years to build, and require massive government subsidies," the demonstrators said in a statement.

The activists say they would like this funding to be used to quickly reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency measures, development of renewable energy sources, and restoration of damaged wetland and forest ecosystems.

In coalition with the protests in St. Petersburg, international demonstrations occurred on July 14 and 15 in numerous cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Germany.

The protests included large "banner drops" in multiple cities, protests of coal and oil companies, and rallies at the U.S. embassy in London and the Washington, DC home of U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. On Friday, protestors showed up at Bodman's home, demanding that the United States and the G8 abandon the focus on nuclear, coal, and on oil wars as "energy security." They chanted "No Coal, No Nukes, G-8 shut it down!" No arrests took place.

"The G8 countries represent just 15 percent of the world's population but they produce 45 percent of all human emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas," said Ethan Green of Rising Tide North America, a group that publicized the July 15 protests against climate change and the G8 in the United States.

"Poor, indigenous and environmentally vulnerable communities should not bear the brunt of disease epidemics, droughts, floods, melting ice, rising oceans, hurricanes, and other catastrophes caused by the global climate change that rich countries are responsible for due to our prodigious burning of coal, oil and gas for energy," said Green.

Demonstrators in front of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Sydney, Australia (Photo courtesy Indymedia Australia)

On Friday, as a part of the Global Day of Action Against the G8 a small group of protesters demonstrated in front of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Sydney, Australia. The five protesters displayed signs, shared vodka and iced tea, discussed the implications of the G8's continued existence, and expressed solidarity with the protesters in Russia. In fear of a larger demonstration, the consulate was closed to visitors, part of the street was cordoned off, and at least 10 police officers guarded the area near the entrance.

In Canada on Tuesday, a demonstration is planned at the Sidney, British Columbia office of federal Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, to protest the withdrawal of support for the Kyoto climate protocol by the recently elected Conservative government.

The protesters, organized by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, will hold a brief rally with speakers, songs by the Raging Grannies, placards, and banners, followed by a petition drive to passersby in downtown Sidney, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the provincial capital of Victoria.

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is calling on the federal Conservative government of Canada to "at the very least, honor Canada's participation in the Kyoto Accord by working to achieve its emissions targets for Canada of six percent below 1990 emissions levels by the year 2012."

Gary Lunn is Canada's Ministery of Natural Resources (Photo courtesy Office of the Minister)

The protesters fault the Conservatives for "scrapping Canada's obligation to meet Kyoto's emissions reductions targets, falsely stating that it's impossible to meet the targets." They object to the elimination of over a dozen major federal climate change programs, including the C$1 billion dollar Partnership Fund which was to be used for climate change projects for five provinces, as well as the EnerGuide Program to provide rebates to Canadians who buy more energy efficient appliances.

The Wilderness Committee says a leaked government document shows the Conservatives are "working to delay, obstruct and sabotage progress during negotiations among Kyoto signatories by trying to weaken emissions reductions targets, with a goal of eventually eliminating the entire agreement."

Instead of reducing greenhouse gases, the demonstrators say the Conservatives are granting "huge subsidies to the highly destructive Alberta tar sands industry and the oil and gas industry in general."