Ad notam. Diverse years' notes/2.55

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By Andrey Lubenski


3 November 2002

Internet – a Weapon of Russian Environmentalists?[edit]

Interview with Vladimir Mikheev – director of Citizens` Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Translated by Viktor Ouskin Late October Krasnoyarsk was the site to hold a training seminar "Enhancing the efficiency of work in the Internet and promotion of Internet resources for the non-government organizations". The seminar gathered in Siberia activists of Russian non-governmental organizations standing for nuclear and radiation safety issues. The geography of participants is quite vast: Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk. Vladimir Mikheev – Director of the Citizens’ Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation answered questions of "PRAVDA.Ru" correspondent Andrei Lubensky. - The principal goal of the seminar is implied by its title: " Enhancing the efficiency of work in the Internet and promotion of Internet resources for the non-government organizations". However, this also raises a question – didn`t the non-government organizations use the Web potential inefficiently so far? Wasn`t this the cause that called for the necessity of holding the seminar? - We have traversed a thorny path, stumbling over our own mistakes and getting stuck in troubles. Nowhere we get information how to create our own information resource. Among numerous seminars and conferences held for NGOs in Russia I cannot recall a single one to provide knowledge for the non-government organizations to properly and efficiently work with the Internet. After I read a book of world-known Internet specialist J. Nielsen "Web-Design: Jacob Nielsens` Book" I understood that everything has to be started from a scratch and try to meet the following conditions: • High quality of site contents; • Frequent updates; • Minimal loading time of the resource; • Simple use; • Meet user`s needs; • Uniqueness in the Internet; • Internet-oriented corporative culture. For example, commercial or state-owned structures of Russia do not meet most of these important criteria, either; therefore Runet is not an outstanding resource. The Internet potential is not used adequately, many site designers make similar misstates again and again. The seminar was held to help NGOs understand these errors and avoid mistakes in developing their Internet projects. To listen to the lectures of Alexey Babii – full member of the Russian Internet Academy – a man of great experience, to ask him questions, share one`s own experience and problems, to discuss them is useful for anyone. In addition, every seminar is an opportunity to socialize and share experience in person. - Who initiated and sponsored this forum, by what criteria were the participants selected? The meeting was initiated and mostly organized by the Citizens` Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation. Krasnoyarsk company "Maxsoft" kindly allowed us to use their training center. Almost all NGOs, working on nuclear safety issues and having their own web-resources belong to "Sustainable Power" and "Nuclear Safety" network. Therefore, the principle of selection was quite strict, the organization was not only to have its own ecologically oriented site, but a nuclear subject resource and belong to one of the said NGO networks. We had numerous applications for the seminar, we regret to have rejected some of them, as they did contradicted the subject of the seminar. And the last selection criterion was the primary basic knowledge the web-masters (editors) of Internet resources to be invited were to have. - Can you tell about the most interesting episodes of the seminar? The participants evidently had something to share? - The seminar was held by a high professional in his field – full member of the Russian Internet Academy Alexey Babii. All participants listened to him with bated breath. Everything was interesting, personal experience of Alexey, in particular. It is difficult to point out something specific. Among the most interesting are the explanations and demonstrations of site Alexey created: Krasnoyarsk preserve "Stolby" and about people repressed under Stalinism ("Memorial" Society). - What are the top priority problems for the "NGO and Internet " sphere? Which of them can be recognized as most difficult for resolution? - Most probably, it is the fund raising. And, one can say, to get truthful information (this concerns nuclear issues). - Public organizations and the state. The statement on the "information war " the environmentalists declared Minatom evoked a stormy reaction. It is obvious, that this is a "war" for the common good. Still, what conclusions can be made about relations of environmental NGOs with local state organs? -Relations differ with regions. What`s more, even in one region they differ with the situation and authorities. On the whole, it is, probably, safe to say, that sometimes they lend their ear (if the Kremlin is not against). But more often they lend their ear to nuclear industry, particularly, when finances are involved. Speaking about the nuclear experts proper, generally they demonstrate their loyalty, desire to interact and so on, but "keep a fig in the pocket". Truthful but disadvantageous information they, of course, do not give out. And if they are touched on a raw spot, and hit on the nail, they cast mud on the greens, or begin a counterpropaganda campaign. For example, Krasnoyarsk is full of posters explaining the population how good is the foreign spent nuclear fuel is, how ecologically clean is the nuclear power, etc. We have no money for such advertising. - Aside to information activity did the Krasnoyarsk seminar discuss other acute issues? - The seminar discussed both information issues (how to write, the form to give) and organization problems: navigation principles, usability, promotion and maintaining of the site. The seminar also touched upon how to validly stand against the developed propaganda of Minaton both in the Internet and conventional mass media. How to reflect in the Internet information space Minatom`s commercial activity which is a threat to nuclear nonproliferation (import of foreign spent nuclear fuel into Russia for storage and processing, development of plutonium economics). - What are the practical achievements of the seminar? - After lectures on theory the attendants consolidated this material under the guidance of experienced trainers. Each trainee had a personal computer with Internet access which they used for practical work. Everyone knew something new and useful for oneself – depending on personal experience. - This is, probably, not the last meeting of environmental NGOs in Kransoyarsk. What are the plans of the organizers for the future? - Judging by responses, the seminar was excellent. And there is hope that it will not remain the only one and will be regular – to gather participants to hone their prowess and share experience. So, the plans for the future are Napoleonic. The training seminars must also be regular. Experience shows that even people quite competent in other fields at best have no idea about this sphere. At, worst, they are such muddleheads, God save. I`m not speaking about the young people

Permanent address: References on the subject: Citizens’ Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Pravda.Ru: Russian environmentalists declare Minatom an information war