Nevada-Semey movement is 25 years old
February 27. Kazpravda. Semey
By Aigul BIDANOVA
A local history museum in Semey held a roundtable meeting, timed to the 25th year of the International antinuclear movement Nevada-Semey, attended by its activists, members of NGOs and students.
A quarter of a century ago, many of the meeting attendees were standing in Abay steppe at the fencing of the “nuclear monster”, demanding its immediate closure. It is deeply symbolic that the document on closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the first official decree of the new independent country.
There is also a symbolism in the venue of the roundtable meeting – against the background of the museum section, called “Polygon: yesterday, today and tomorrow”, telling the story of this military facility and recounting its closure forty years later under the pressure of popular protest rallies. It displays a copy of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s historical decree dated August 29, 1991 , records and photographs of the anti-nuclear movement, wooden sculptures, exuding the tragedy of the nuclear explosions’ victims.
There is a test site known to the world as ground zero that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited in April 2010 to support the anti-nuclear initiatives of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and all the Kazakhstanis.
As the museum’s chief curator Aigul Nurabaeva said, the Semey dwellers over 25 years old still remember the “dancing” tableware and kitchen utensils in the sideboards and cabinets on Sundays, the tinkling of glassware that amused the unsuspecting kids. That was part of their life they were accustomed to. Meanwhile, the truth was gradually leaking out, and when the information was made public about the irreparable damage caused to human health by the nuclear test site, it rallied millions of people in the popular movement in the late 80es. The official date of Nevada -Semipalatinsk movement’s emergence- Kazakhstan’s first NGO, organized by Olzhas Suleimenov is February 28, 1989.
In a short time the number of nuclear explosions reduced due to their protests, then was closed down altogether on President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decree. At first the test site was transformed into a research center , and after the Soviet Union break-up the National Nuclear Center was opened there.
The movement still has a lot of work ahead.