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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 22 3 Russian Quakers in green protest 4 New Zealand Quakers reiterate commitment to Maori rights 5 A vision for the future Edward Hoare William Penn and Saumur 6-7 Celebrations in Saumur Gill Coffin 8-9 Expulsion and dissent: William
Penn at the Protestant Academy Betty Hagglund 10-12 Interview:
13 Treasuring the library Keith Walton and Pete Jesson 14-15 Letters 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: The Hotel de Ville in Saumur, scene of a reception for the William Penn celebrations. Photo: Gill Coffin. See pages 6-7.
Images on this page: Top: Chateau de Saumur in France, overlooking the Loire.
Below: Quaker historian Steve Angell with his prize: an officer’s tie from the Cadre Noir, the elite French cavalry regiment based in Saumur. Both photos: Gill Coffin. See pages 6-7.
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the Friend, 3 June 2011 News
Russian Quakers in green protest
Quakers at Friends House Moscow (FHM) are at the centre of a controversial ‘green protest’ focused on an ancient woodland in central Russia.
Board members of FHM in recent weeks have targeted the French company Vinci for their participation in a controversial highway project linking St Petersburg and Moscow.
The motorway is planned to cut through the precious woodlands of Khimki Forest. The protest to preserve the ancient woodland, in which Quakers at Friends House Moscow have been heavily involved, is one of the first in Russia to take on a ‘green’ issue. Friends, amongst other activities, have helped publicise a petition to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president.
Sergei Grushko, a member of staff of Friends House Moscow, argues that the reasons Quakers in Russia are getting involved in the protest are the same as those that prompted early Friends to refuse to take their hats off and were ‘willing to go to jail’ for this action.
The Khimki forest protest is linked with a broader movement for change in Russian society. A new development, known as ‘the blue bucket’ movement, has targeted bureaucrats who put flashing blue lights on top of their cars and then drive with impunity, ignoring traffic lights and laws, through the streets. As a protest people began to put blue plastic buckets, made as toys for children, on the roof of their cars. Sergei Grushko believes that the protests represent more than a plea for equality on the road – it’s about developing shared power between the rulers and the ruled in Russia.
‘This is a real network movement,’ Sergei said. ‘The blue bucket initiative does not have a special organiser. People communicate on the internet and decide what to do and how to fight against the privileges of the bureaucrats. The key to open discussion in Russia, because of state censorship in television and to an extent in radio and newspapers, has increasingly been the internet.
The Khimki forest protest is of major importance, according to Natasha Zhuravenkova, a fellow member of staff at FHM, and Sergei Grushko because of the ecological importance of preserving an old-growth forest. The forest has become a symbol.
Some protesters believe that violence is the way forward. This view is not shared by Quakers at FHM, who have close contact with the leaders of the Khimki forest protest. While supporting the aims of the protest, they have been engaged in negotiations, advocated nonviolent alternatives and demonstrated that peaceful means have been successful elsewhere in the world. Sergei Grushko added: ‘The highway is important but the way they planned it was wrong. They did not ask people. They did not discuss it widely so the majority of people felt that it was not just and they felt like slaves, like people who are not asked about important things. They were humiliated by the behaviour of the government. Ecological problems are not political so ecological protests can attract more people. Ecological problems are more real to people and more understandable. ‘It also unites people who do not want to allow ecological destruction and people who would like ecological problems to be discussed and solved not only in bureaucratic cabinets, but by wider discussion in the society.’
Ian Kirk-Smith the Friend, 3 June 2011