Sep 19, 2005

The campaign so far.  This is the story so far by the Anticorporate Association.

In March 2005 three Russian organizations of NGO sector have united into the coalition Anticorporate Association for fighting the effects of transnational corporations. The idea is to rally regional (state) NGOs of the third world countries working in the field of environment, social defense, political analysis, leftist activism and other around withstanding corporations hurting their countries via acts of protest, fact finding, firm monitoring.Every company has its disadvantages and weaknesses and instead of correcting it they hide them. Anticorporate Association of organizations which started in Russia see its aim in finding especially persistent and habitual lawbreakers in the country among corporations and by the example of revealing derangements of concrete transgressor- to compel other companies and the state to be more responsible, circumspect and transparent dealing with the society, with commons. Our strategy is to find corporation, to collect information on its infringements (not only in one country but in other parts of the world- this process has started within the framework of the ESF process) and to go to the country and the city where the headquarters and main capital of the corporation is situated in with a view to find solidarity and common interest with people of the place, who are also cross with corporation’s politics. That is how another world is possible.The coalition which includes Institute for Globalization Studies (world-famous Russian leftist think-tank and part of alterglobalization movement), All-Russian Foundation ‚’Citizen’ (one of the most influential organization in social protest movement in Russia, resource base for the coalition), International Social and Environmental Union (NGO like Greenpeace, but working predominantly in CIS countries and Eastern Europe) shares the only strategy- don’t set corporation free until it reforms itself or disappears.Association decided to start with British Petroleum company which joined in Russia one of the most criminal and notorious oil corporation TNK. The story of TNK in Russia is well-known since the company was always in the list of scandals in press and on TV, caused by the criminal past of its owners A. Freedman and R. Abramovich. This criminal characteristic of the company was always one of the reasons why NGOs didn’t attack them- they were either bribed or blackmailed or simple scared of possible violence on the part of TNK. In 2003 strangely BP turned into the shareholders of TNK (appr. this time Abramovich left Russia for London and bought Chelsea). After this TNK-BP association became the third by its size oil company in Russia (after Yukos and Lukoil), producing oil mainly for Europe. Hence actives of TNK such as refineries, cleansing works and others became the property of BP.Association for a long time were fixing and stating breakings of the company in the next fields:

  • legal
  • environmental
  • taxing
  • social

As a result of observation it was found out a few oil rivers (length more than 200 metres, width 2,5 metres) and many oil lakes starting (it’s proved) from the territory of BP and flowin into ground waters (as a result people of the adjacent and distant settlements and cities (Moscow as well) drink oiled water (we’re still investigating this issue). These rivers were shown all over the world by Reuters, France 2, BBC and others. (we have materials) Social effect of presence of company in the regions is also negative governors are bribed (some of them in different time were included into regional Boards of Directors), by this means company becomes the ‘owner’ of the region (while it controls authorities and authorities control everything Russian regions are extremely authoritarian, so the company becomes very criminalized), it obtains illegal right (according to the Russian legislation) to change the place of registration of the company and not to pay local taxes (finally, the region don’t receive necessary payments and pensioners, disabled people are being left without services, subsidies etc.). Fuel tariffs are also set by BP (probably the only company in Russia who does it) voluntary so farmers are now allowed to buy fuel for sowing and harvesting campaigns (the result is beggaring rural regions where BP presents). Etc.Association and its members lodged its complaints to different bodies of authority, but in a short time after it was accepted the Association were receiving letters that it has been lost or a call with an order not intervene in this business. After we started the campaign its participants were threatened for 9 times. Beaten one time. We made 3 official requests from the members of the Russian Parliament to the Russian office of BP, but sans result. We’ve already held five actions in five regions of Russia against BP’s policy. They were covered by the Russian and Foreign media. On 14th and 19th in Moscow there will be 2 big actions, where we’ll deliver the barrel of BP’s oil to Moscow office and show how ‘social policy’ of company influences people. The next point of action is London.

What the Association is going to do in London:

The Association is going to come to London and to hold press conference with our colleagues from the UK to show the scale of disaster in Russia, how it touches British people, to rally human resources for future fighting, to attract journalist to starting anti BP campaign, and to make an announcement of mass actions we’re going to hold in London against BP policy and Blair’s ignorance and the same in Moscow against BP and Putin, who closes eyes at the problem. Simultaneously we go on with collecting info from different parts of the world.Our demands and claims on BP:To put in compliance with BP’s words BP’s environmental and social activities (see web-site of company and feel the difference)To investigate environmental and social crimes inflicted by BP in RussiaTo recultivate polluted areasTo create an Independent Tradeunion, covering all BP’s enterprises in Russia, under permanent control of British TUTo create an observatory board of russian and british environmentalists and TUs observing changes (recultivation and TU creation) on the basis of company, initiating social and environmental improvements and providing public open control over corporation in Russia. Otherwise to leave from Russia in a shortest time (hands off from Russia)We’ve set a deadline for them on environmental issues for the end of September. And still have no answer neither here nor in the UK! So time is almost over and we start picketing BP offices and deposits again! And on October 1st will submit cases we prepared to the court and, start preparatory activities for parliamentary hearings in Russia!

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