Jill Stein responds to Russian environmentalists
September 10, 2016
Dear Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova,
First of all, thank you for your courageous actions to protect our planet and fight for political freedoms.
Those who stand against entrenched political and economic power often face retaliation from the elites who are leading us into economic, social and ecological crisis. Sadly, this is true in the United States as well as in Russia.
My views regarding Russia, and even my specific statements, have been grossly misrepresented by certain actors in the media and political establishment. There is a growing tendency in American politics to label critics of the established order as agents of Russia working against the United States. For example, when WikiLeaks exposed massive corruption at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, high-ranking Democratic Party officials and their supporters in the media began attacking WikiLeaks as an alleged agent of Russia, despite their inability to produce any hard evidence to support this claim. This tactic of smearing critics as Russian agents is the mirror image of the Putin administration’s tactic of labeling Putin critics as agents of the West. It is reminiscent of the shameful history of Russia-baiting attacks against political opposition leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.
In this climate of growing anti-Russian sentiment, my visit to Russia to participate in a panel on international relations became a target. Andrew Weiss, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted a video from my Moscow trip with a claim that I was “gushing over Russian support for human rights.” Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Glenn Greenwald quickly pointed out that this claim was completely false. My comments were in reference to the conference on international relations with political figures from around the world, many of whom expressed support for my vision of a foreign policy based on diplomacy, respect for international law and human rights.
At the same time, Democratic political consultant John Aravois spread the claim that I “only criticized the US” and refused to criticize Russia—as Greenwald pointed out, another falsehood. In my comments on international relations I criticized both the governments of the United States and Russia for putting resources into military spending that would be better and more justly spent on critical domestic needs. This is a matter of public record. Yet the fact that I criticized Russian military policy in Moscow was ignored by people like Washington Post reporter Anne Appelbaum, who tweeted that I was a “pro-Putin” candidate. On Joy Reid’s show on MSNBC, former Naval intelligence officer Malcolm Nance stated, “Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today,” a blatant falsehood that Reid refused to correct even after Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting publicly brought it to her attention. So it’s not surprising that many people are confused after hearing prominent members of the political and media establishment repeat stories that run counter to the facts.
You have asked, “How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners, or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists?” The answer is simple: I did not have any discussion with Mr. Putin. Although we sat across from each other at the same table, there was no interpreter present—so there was no opportunity to discuss human rights or anything else with him.
Regardless, if elected president of the United States, I will do everything in my power to advance the cause of human rights around the world. First, the United States must lead by example, by respecting the human rights of our own people, freeing our own political prisoners, and addressing the anti-democratic and anti-environmental forces in our own society. I will also meet with Russian leaders, journalists, activists and members of civil society to discuss pressing human rights and environmental issues. As a member of the only American political party that refuses to accept money from corporations, I can serve as an honest broker for these critical discussions, because the Green Party’s only agenda is to secure peace, justice, democracy, and a livable planet for all people, not to promote military and economic domination of other lands as both Democrats and Republicans have done.
In the America I grew up in, one of our greatest fears was war with the Soviet Union, which we knew could end in nuclear oblivion for both countries, if not the world. So it is frightening to see Hillary Clinton, who has enthusiastically supported bloody wars in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere, turn her belligerence toward Russia. Clinton supports a no-fly zone over Syria, which could push the US into an air war with Russia. More recently, Clinton accused Russia of hacking into the Democratic National Committee and even state election systems and warned that as president she would respond to “cyber attacks” with “serious political, economic and military responses.” War between the US and Russia is a horrifying prospect that would be disastrous for Americans, Russians, and the planet we share. Yet we seem headed down that dangerous path with the belligerent and hysterical anti-Russian rhetoric we now hear regularly from Clinton and her supporters, both Democrats and Republicans.
Clinton’s anti-Russian maneuvering will surely be used by Putin to justify further attacks on his political opponents as agents of the West, and Republican Donald Trump seems as uninterested in human rights as he is in environmental progress. What the Greens offer is completely different: we see Russians not as enemies to conquer or resources to exploit, but as members of the global community whom we must deal with. We seek principled collaboration to develop potential partnerships to create a world that works for all of us.
I hope that we can meet in the near future to discuss human rights and environmental issues in Russia and around the world. I am committed to supporting your struggle for human rights and a sustainable future, which is our struggle as well. I am committed to peace and dialogue between the American and Russian people. As the great Russian dissident and advocate against nuclear war Andrei Sakharov said, our strategy of peaceful coexistence and collaboration must be deepened in every way. It is my sincere hope that many more Russians and people of every nation will join our Global Green family so that together we can continue working towards a world that puts people, planet and peace over profit.
From The Russian Reader.com:
Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova: Open Letter to Dr. Jill Stein
By Yevgeniya Chirikova & Nadezhda Kutepova
September 6, 2016
Open Letter to Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Candidate for President of the United States
Dear Dr. Stein,
We are writing to you in the spirit of green values and principles, which include fighting for a sustainable future, defending the environment and human rights, and engaging in international solidarity. We are also writing to you as eco-activists, women and mothers.
In November of this year, you will face an important challenge which will have an impact all over the world, even far from the US. As Russian eco-activists, we are following the US presidential election with curiosity and fear. Curiosity for your democratic system and fear for the impact that the result of this election could have on our lives and the lives of our children.
As environmentalists and human rights defenders, we often support Green candidates all over the world when they run in local, national or continental elections. However, we are asking ourselves if we can support your candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America. We have carefully read your program and your website, and we have to admit that we are deeply shocked by the position you expressed during your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Mr. Vladimir Putin.
During the last few years, the Russian authorities have continued the destruction of the rich and unique Russian environment. The Kremlin is heavily contributing to global climate change and the destruction of global biodiversity by overexploiting Russian natural resources and promoting unsafe nuclear energy. The corruption and anti-democratic behavior of the current Russian government have also led to negative impacts on Russia’s unique forests and natural heritage. Russian eco-activists and human rights defenders are also facing an increasingly repressive system which was constructed under Putin’s regime. The list of the victims of this system is unfortunately becoming longer and longer. Russian environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko spent 22 months in prison for a non-violent action. Journalist Mikhail Beketov was violently attacked in 2008, suffered serious injuries, and died in 2013. Our personal cases are also symbolic: because of our activism, and in order to protect our children, we were both forced to leave Russia and to seek political asylum in the European Union.
After your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Vladimir Putin you said that “the world deserve[s] a new commitment to collaborative dialogue between our governments to avert disastrous wars for geopolitical domination, destruction of the climate, and cascading injustices that promote violence and terrorism.” We agree with you. But how can this new “collaborative dialogue” be possible when Mr. Putin has deliberately built a system based on corruption, injustice, falsification of elections, and violation of human rights and international law? How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists? Is it fair to speak with him about “geopolitics” and not mention new Russian laws against freedom of speech, restrictions on NGOs and activists or the shameful law that forbids “homosexual propaganda”?
By silencing Putin’s crimes you are silencing our struggle. By shaking his hand and failing to criticize his regime you become his accomplice. By forgetting what international solidarity means you are insulting the Russian environmental movement.
Dr. Stein, you still have several weeks before the election in order to clarify your position on the anti-democratic and anti-environmental elements of Putin’s regime. We sincerely hope that our voices will be heard and that our questions will not go unanswered.
Yevgeniya Chirikova is a Russian environmental activist who gained renown as one of the leaders of the fight to save the Khimki Forest, outside of Moscow. She currently lives in Estonia. Nadezhda Kutepova, an anti-nuclear activist from the small town of Ozyorsk in the Urals and founder of the NGO Planet of Hopes, was forced to flee the country last year with her four children after being accused on state TV of “espionage.” Photos courtesy of East West Blog and RFE/RL, respectively. NB. This letter was very lightly edited to make it more readable. TRR
Thank you The Russian Reader & Yevgeniya Chirikova & Nadezhda Kutepova