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SARATOV -- Dozens of Russian environmental activists have staged a protest in the western city of Saratov against the prolonged use of a nuclear energy plant, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The protest was a street performance on April 26 under the slogan "Peaceful Nuclear Energy Is a Myth!"

Dozens of activists representing the Public Ecological Council, which unites environmental NGOs, wore costumes emblazoned with the signs "Radiation," "Death," and "Mutant" while collecting signatures for a petition to the governor demanding the revision of a recent decision to prolong the use of two reactors at the Balakovo nuclear power plant.

The activists say the nearby reactors, which have been in use since 1985 and 1986, should be decommissioned to avoid a possible nuclear disaster.

Olga Pitsunova, the leader of a Saratov-based independent environmental movement, told RFE/RL that many factors are taken into account when calculating how long a reactor can safely function, including the "aging" of individual components under high levels of radiation.

She said the decision to prolong the usage of the two Balakovo reactors is "very risky."

The protesters also said that waste from the nuclear plant should not be discharged into the Volga River.

The protest in Saratov was scheduled to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.

Read more in Russian here