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Activist Sues Belarusian President Over Nuclear Power Plant

Belarusian antinuclear campaigner Mikalay Ulasevich
Belarusian antinuclear campaigner Mikalay Ulasevich
ASTRAVETS, Belarus -- An antinuclear activist in western Belarus is suing President Alyaksandr Lukashenka over plans to build a contentious nuclear power station there, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Mikalay Ulasevich, who helps coordinate the "A Nuclear Power Station in Astravets Is A Crime" campaign, told journalists on October 7 that he has submitted his lawsuit to the Supreme Court.

He said Presidential Decree No. 418 "On the location of a nuclear power station in Belarus" contradicts Article 18 of the country's constitution, which proclaims Belarus "a neutral country with a nuclear-free territory."

Ulasevich also said he and his colleagues had no choice but to file the lawsuit against Lukashenka after officials at all levels ignored their repeated protests against the planned plant.

Ulasevich said he and his colleagues approached the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Energy Ministry, and the Ministry for Extraordinary Situations, urging them to stop the project. "They all answered that nuclear-free territory means a territory without nuclear weapons, and nuclear power plants used for peaceful needs have nothing to do with the article in the constitution," Ulasevich said.

Ulasevich said his lawsuit against Lukashenka contains detailed information about the damage Belarus suffered as a result of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in neighboring Ukraine in 1986, as well as an assessment of the damage caused by the recent nuclear disaster in Japan.

Ulasevich has asked the Supreme Court to designate Presidential Decree No. 418 unconstitutional.

In January, Russia pledged to give Belarus a loan to help build the nuclear plant in Astravets.

The two sides signed the deal for the $9.4 billion loan during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Minsk in March.

Read more in Belarusian here