The Nuclear-Free Future Award

for a world without nuclear weapons, nuclear energy and uranium ammunition

Oleg Bodrov

Oleg Bodrov

Nuclear-Free Future

is presented by the
Franz Moll Foundation
for the Coming Generations

Oleg Bodrov


for his steadfast work
as 'guardian of the Baltic',
and as a philosopher
of the Nuclear Age

New York City,
29 September 2010

Oleg Bodrov

We flew to St. Petersburg in January of 2002 to meet with Oleg Bodrov of Green World and the Clean Baltic Coalition, the hosts of that year's Nuclear-Free Future Award ceremony. Oleg failed to show up at the appointment. In the lobby of Hotel Moskva, perusing the English language St. Petersburg Times, we were startled to learn of the dramatic circumstances behind Bodrov's nonappearance: the day before in Sosnovy Bor, the site of the world's largest nuclear waste disposal facility, Oleg had been assaulted in the parking lot of the Green World offices, had been rushed to the intensive care unit of the local hospital with serious head injuries.

Oleg Bodrov's environmental activism motivated the vicious attack. At the time, Oleg was investigating the re-smelting of radioactive metal. Intimidation, brute force, these are the tools of the Russian nuclear mafia. Happily, Oleg sustained no permanent disability, and shortly after his hospital stay of nearly a month he was fit enough to meet with us in Germany, where, modest and unassuming, he downplayed the significance of the incident. If anything, the beating only steeled Bodrov's anti-nuclear commitment.

Oleg Viktorovich Bodrov studied engineering and physics at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. Following his studies, he became a researcher testing nuclear submarine reactor units at the Alexandrov Scientific Institute. On the night of June 20, 1979, an explosion occurred inside the institute's nuclear submarine test tank, killing two workers. While analyzing the accident, Oleg learned of other whitewashed serious mishaps, including the nuclear meltdown of a submarine reactor some five years before – an accident turned state secret. Oleg tells us: "That is when I understood I need to use my knowledge not for military research, but to protect nature from the nuclear industry."

"I understood I need to use my knowledge not for military research, but to protect nature from the nuclear industry."

Because he was once part of the nuclear industry and is now a leader of the green movement, Oleg is ideally suited to integrate nuclear industrialists and "the greens" in the push to decommission Russia's fleet of aging nuclear plants, many of which are Chernobyl-style reactors operating well past their intended lifespans. "It's like driving a 30-year-old car," Oleg says, "at any moment something can rattle loose."

One of the biggest obstacles to shutting down nuclear plants is that thousands of employees lose their jobs. Oleg knows that every nuclear station has a nuclear city to run it – a city usually the same age as the reactors, with budgets and infrastructures tied to the success of its reactor operations. So it is not only nuclear industry experts who promote lifetime extensions of reactors; it is also town residents and municipal authorities. Bodrov has developed a twofold vision: the first part is to demonstrate that decommissioning is possible; the second part calls for replacing nuclear energy jobs with careers in the sustainable energy sector, so that cities, once nuclear, can maintain their economic base – and contribute to a better world.

Together with 1999 Nuclear-Free Future Award laureate Lydia Popova, Oleg is a founding member and, since Lydia's passing, chairperson of the GREEN WORLD Council. From 1998 to 2003, Bodrov was the moving spirit behind the Clean Baltic Coalition. In 2004, nominated by the environmental community, Oleg was named Russia's "Green Person of the Year." Since 2006, Bodrov has published a number of manuscripts and produced four documentary films on the technical and social aspects of decommissioning nuclear power plants, labors that have not only reshaped thinking at RosAtom (the State Corporation for Nuclear Energy in Russia), but sparked interest internationally among government authorities and concerned citizens beset by the same problem: what to do when the reactor's time has come? Bodrov has traveled with his PowerPoint presentations to Lithuania, Belarus, Germany, England, and the USA. Our laureate describes his role in the push for a nuclear-free world as that of a "philosopher-organizer."

– Craig Reishus