Will they put the plant into operation?
Lithuanian intelligence released a report, which refers to violations of international safety standards for the construction of the NPP in Astravets, as well as the escalating conflict between the responsible Belarusian authorities, customers and representatives of Rosatom.
Charter97.org addressed the activist from Astravets Mikalai Ulasevich, who has been dealing with the BelNPP problems for many years, for comments.
- How do you assess the information published by Lithuanians?
- I do not have all the information about events there. There is some kind of slowdown with putting the plant into operation from the Belarusian side. The Russian side does not like it.
On the whole, I am satisfied with the situation. Maybe, we will have to deal with the failure to launch the NPP. This conflict was expected.
There are many talks about safety, according to facts, they are hardly observed there and one can hardly expect the plant to operate in normal conditions.
- Were there any preconditions for the conflict between Rosatom and the responsible Belarusian authorities?
- I can say there is discontent on the part of the Russian side because the Belarusian side makes certain claims.
This discontent is expressed in minor conflict situations.
However, these conflicts may turn into ones of interests between Belarus and Russia. As far as I am concerned, it fits in the information we receive.
- The Investigative Committee has already initiated an investigation into the incidents at the construction site; several people were detained during the investigation. Have you heard anything about it?
- The locals do not know about it. If so, it was expected. And it's good that it finally happens. Although it's revealed, the IC seems to take the incidents at the construction site quite seriously. In general, the NPP should be closed down and this topic should be forgotten.
- And residents do not say anything about the actions of the IC?
- Absolutely. If I don't have the information, it's unlikely that locals will know anything.
- So everything's being kept secret?
- I think so. Especially after I released the emergency with the fall of the reactor vessel. After that, they tightened the discipline on the NPP. They took away workers' cell phones with video cameras, prohibited them from leaving the territory. In general, when hiring people, they told that people had no right to disseminate any information, otherwise they would be fired. There's a terrible system to monitor information. The secrecy is pretty high there.
- May it happen that Belarusian officials are afraid of responsibility for the operation of the plant?
- Yes, they are afraid. But by and large, they follow the principle "hide behind someone's back". There is a team, the main "responsible" official in our country is Lukashenka.
They will hide behind his back unless they are made scapegoats. Lukashenka will immediately decide on the degree of guilt, although we know who is the villain and who supervises the construction of the NPP.
- How would you comment on Rosatom's negligence and reliability of the objects it erects?
- We all know Russian "devil-may-care attitude" and we know so many facts not only about plants but also about Russian technologies in general, so I can say that one should be very concerned about such a dangerous object erected in Belarus.
It shouldn't start working in our country and we could put an end to this issue. All the more, there is no "economy" behind this project. Lukashenka himself admitted that "no one explained how it would fit into the economy".
- What should we do with the NPP and how to ensure its non-operation?
- Today, the level of the construction resistance has taken to an international level. Today, Lithuania is the major opponent with its powerful political system, with its government, etc.
As for the locals and Belarusian citizens in general, you know that we are neglected. If we express any discontent, we may be imprisoned or fined. Even when we fight for the independence of our sovereign state.
If a decision is made at a high political level, under the pressure of Lithuania and with the help of the European Union, then the plant may be closed down. It would be great. Regarding Russia, today Belarus and Russia have tough relations, especially on the supply of energy resources. The NPP is one of the largest energy facilities and it also requires raw materials, the same uranium.
I think it's not just a damaging economic project, it's a Russian mousetrap.
- What would you open there instead of the NPP?
- More than one facility there could be equipped. For example, a large logistics centre; some processing facilities could be set up. It could be a cultural and entertainment centre or a museum of our power's muddle-headed recklessness. Much money was wasted on the facility and eventually got a stabbing in the back. This issue needs thorough consideration. Lithuania could join and make its proposals not to waste all the funds invested in this construction. There could be many options.