the first years of childhood. The program includes international exchanges among pupils, students, professors; workshops and training for teachers; and an annual international conference “Ecological Education.” Public hearings on ecological problems of disarmament and elimination of arms also take place.
“The Cold War Heritage” is another program. RGC deals with ecological problems of nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and conventional armaments. It studies the impact of mass production of armaments, their storage and testing on the environment, and public health. All armaments produced during the arms race to some extent have influenced and still influence the environment. Unfortunately, they will influence it further. They cause many ecological problems that need resolution. Our authorities are not ready to resolve them now. Only nongovernmental organizations try to resolve the issues.
More than one thousand nongovernmental ecological organizations are registered in Russia. RGC is not alone in the NGO world. However, in contrast to the Wildlife Fund, for example, which is busy with conservation of biodiversity and environment protection in the most beautiful parts of the country, we have to work in the territories with difficult ecological problems, such as nuclear contamination, storage or destruction of chemical weapons, polluted aerodromes, and missile depots. They are the territories where the military-industrial complex left behind a difficult heritage in the earth, water, and atmosphere.
Public hearings are an effective way to resolve conflicts between residents and officials—conflicts due to the reluctance of the authorities to listen to citizens who live in these godforsaken regions of the country. In the case of civil society, it is the responsibility of the State to sponsor dialogs and reach conclusions from conversation with the people. But while Russia is just searching for its path to civil society, a difficult role belongs to public (nongovernmental) organizations, and RGC in particular.
The concept of hearings has a history. In post-Soviet society, RGC carried out open public hearings in 1995 in Saratov. They were devoted to the problem of future destruction of chemical weapons in the settlement of Gorny in the Krasnopartizan region of Saratov Oblast.
At this time, society has come to understand that difficult political, social, ecological, and other types of problems need new ways of solution. Many people know the case of Chapaevsk. When the Soviet leaders made the decision on elimination of chemical weapons stored in the Soviet Union, it was done in secret. They began to build a plant for destruction of chemical weapons in Chapaevsk, Samara Oblast. Neither the population of Samara Oblast, nor people