Security in the Russian environment: State -civic contention in the nuclear defense complex
Environmental degradation, Russian state security, civic empowerment, and governmental powers have been studied separately, but are not insulated from one another. To understand and underscore their interconnectedness, this study uses primary and secondary sources as well as interviews with leading activists and government officials to answer the question: under what conditions have civic actors influenced the management of Russia's nuclear defense complex? The dissertation traces three cases involving (1) Captain (Retired) Alexander Nikitin; (2) the “spy trials” of Captain Pasko, researcher Igor Sutyagin, and others; and (3) the campaign for a national environmental referendum conducted in the summer and fall of 2000.
The findings show that, under some conditions, Russia's nascent civil society has influenced the management of the nuclear defense complex (NDC) 1 and have thereby improved Russia's environmental security. Civic actors have successfully exercised contentious challenges to the judiciary and the government. However, troubling reactions to civic pressures on the part of the Russian government and intelligence services reveal that civic voices are threatened by equally powerful efforts to silence them. Civic and government actors are exercising increasingly complex strategies to contend with one another, with fluctuating threats and benefits apparent for all.
The study asked if success in the most sensitive of sectors—the nuclear defense complex—could be translatable to other sectors, such as social welfare, human rights, or combating corruption. The results show that despite the inconsistently positive influence of civic action on the defense complex, an increasingly empowered, transnationally capable, and organized civil society has not yet spurred change in other sectors.
The study's multidimensional approach presents findings useful to analyzing contemporary Russia, yet sensitive to its historical legacies. By identifying emerging and accelerating trends, this study seeks to provide a more focused lens through which to view Russia, as well as with more effective ways to understand related domestic and international policy implications.
1The terms ‘civil society’ and ‘third sector’ are used interchangeably throughout this study, and encompass NGOs, grass-roots organizations, third sector activity, and individual activism.
0616: International relations
0615: Political science