ASTANA, JULY 1, 2013 – Honorary ATOM Project Ambassador and artist Karipbek Kuyukov, a victim of Soviet nuclear testing at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site who was born without arms and who paints with his feet and mouth, has been named one of the 100 most influential people in armed violence reduction by the British organization Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) on June 28.
AOAV works locally, nationally and globally to reduce – and prevent – armed violence. Kuyukov joins such non-violence luminaries on the list as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Nobel Prize laureates Kofi Annan and Dalai Lama. Kuyukov is listed as a survivor of the terrible events that took the lives or severely damaged the health of 1.5 million people near the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site during the four decades of its operation.
“I felt very proud to find out that I had been included on the list of the top 100 most influential people in armed violence reduction,” he said after hearing the news. “But this achievement is not only my achievement. All my colleagues played a vital role in this, starting from the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement and also all those victims of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site whose pain and suffering I have carried throughout all these years. Now, I continue my mission as the Honorary ATOM Project Ambassador as part of the new wave in this struggle for a world free of nuclear weapons.”
“This is another confirmation that Kazakhstan and our President Nursultan Nazarbayev, after having shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, now continue to play a leading role in the world in the area of non-proliferation, including through the international movement called The ATOM Project,” Kuyukov said.
“Nuclear weapons do not distinguish between nationalities, races or skin color. Therefore, this recognition that I just received is a huge leap forward not only for the nuclear tests victims in Kazakhstan, but all over the world, for the victims in Nevada or Hiroshima, and all those that didn’t live to see this day. This recognition was sort of an acceptance by the world that we must stop this nuclear madness. I hope that the new generation pays considerable attention to this issue and uses this experience to avoid such mistakes in the future and will have nuclear weapon free skies,” Kuyukov said.
Kuyukov has dedicated more than twenty years of his life to opposing nuclear weapons internationally for, as he states, the simple and honorable reason of ensuring the world doesn’t see other victims like him born in the future.
In his early 20s, Karipbek started his fight as part of the Nevada - Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement back in early 1990s. Today, he is a part of an international movement with a vision to stop nuclear weapons testing and ultimately eradicate all nuclear arsenals in the world -- The ATOM Project.
The project was launched by President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Aug. 29, 2012 with the clear goals to open dialogue with countries with nuclear arsenals and urge them to ensure the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and to put an end to the nuclear arms race.
The acronym ATOM stands for “Abolish Testing. Our Mission.” Anyone can go online to
As part of the ATOM Project, Karipbek Kuyukov has travelled and exhibited his works in The Hague, at the UN in Geneva and in Washington, DC, in 2012 and in Oslo in 2013. Kuyukov is also currently preparing to promote the cause with new exhibitions in Western Europe and the U.S. in the second half of 2013.
The exhibition of his paintings, “I Only Have My Heart to Hold You,” has been praised by prominent politicians, diplomats and non-proliferation activists from around the world who continue to support Karipbek Kuyukov and his efforts.