“This is the first step in confronting all environmental activists.” If Greenpeace in Russia is recognized as a “foreign agent”

Environmental activists in Bashkortostan have reacted negatively to an initiative by the Russian Ecological Society (REO) to test Greenpeace in Russia and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for compliance with the “foreign agent” status.

The Russian Ecological Society (REO), founded in 2018, brings together, according to data on its website, representatives of “environmentally responsible business and government authorities at the federal and regional levels, ecological leaders and citizens.”

REO found that Greenpeace in Russia and the World Wildlife Fund “form a negative public opinion about the actions of the Russian government and companies in the field of nature conservation.” The society said it was facing “unfriendly actions by foreign NGOs WWF and Greenpeace in relation to the state environmental policy”. President of REO Rashid Ismailov explained that “hostile actions” means “the position of environmentalists in relation to major infrastructure projects”.

Vice-Chairman of the Ecology Committee of the State Duma Alexander Kogan said that “if there is evidence that they [Гринпис в России и WWF] funded by foreign sources, then, of course, they can [признать “иноагентами”]. Member of the Committee of the Federal Council for Agricultural and Food Policy and Environmental Management Ludmila Talabaeva In turn, he said that “today, many countries – and Russia is no exception – are trying to maintain and improve the environmental situation, but the situation can not be changed immediately, it takes time and progress, but international organizations “They are often biased towards Russia, acting on its own soil.”

Political scientist and environmental activist, defender of Kushtau Karina Gorbachev stated that “limiting the activities of the most effective nature protection institutions in the current conditions is a blasphemy”.

– I’m worried about the wording of REO, especially for the second part – “they form a negative opinion about the actions of companies”. It looks like an industrial lobby. Of course, there are companies that may be dissatisfied with the activities of environmental organizations – after all, not all companies are ready to comply with Russian environmental legislation. “Let me remind you that now the environment and nature in Russia are particularly vulnerable, given the decisions that are being taken to limit the control and supervision of businesses,” Gorbachev said.

He added that both organizations – Greenpeace and WWF – are helping to raise awareness of the threat to nature, especially the unique protected areas.

“Both organizations have highly qualified experts who are among the best in the country and who have helped solve more than one major environmental problem,” he said.

Another Kushtau defender, leader of the public movement “Sterlitamak, breath!” Vadim Iskandarov said the REO initiative “does not surprise him”.

“Everything was moving towards this: now the contacts with all the international institutions are being cut off, which, in one way or another, can either discredit modern Russia or be used as a lever for some kind of pressure on the country,” Iskandarov said.

He added that he and his comrades “had no contact with these organizations” and found it difficult to assess their role in terms of effectiveness. “Here in Baskiria, they did not show up in any way,” the activist said.

Eco-activist from Ishimbay Olga Balantina He said that during the threat of Kushtau’s development, he applied to Greenpeace and received “professional answers, with references to regulatory documents” from the agency. “I did not notice any information that formed a negative opinion of some public services in the responses,” the activist said.

– In that case [“формирования негативного общественного мнения”] I have a very good recipe – the activities of every employee in this field should be highly professional and impeccable, any answer given to a resident by the Ministry of Ecology, even Rosprirodnadzor, even Rospotrebnadzor, should be written so well that students can learn the subtle nuances of environmental legislation. Then the possibility of “forming a negative opinion” about them will disappear in the bud, said Olga Baladina.

The activist added that in order to successfully solve environmental problems “an open dialogue is needed between industrialists, government agencies and citizens”. “Then an independent opinion will be formed and the problems will be solved and not silenced,” Balandina summed up.

In 2021, activists from the French branch of Greenpeace protested in front of the headquarters of the French state nuclear company Orano, calling on the country to stop exports and plans to export reprocessed uranium to Russia.

In 2021, activists from the French branch of Greenpeace protested in front of the headquarters of the French state nuclear company Orano, calling on the country to stop exports and plans to export reprocessed uranium to Russia.

Ufa activists of the public movement “StopKronospan” Vera Popova and Irina Kureli said they were facing such a proposal by REO “with bitterness”.

– Another Russian organization, it turns out, decided to appear as patriots with “a little blood”. “They get a” double benefit “here – and show themselves to be patriots, and your inaction in the sea of ​​environmental problems is not visible in the background of such” competitors “, Popova stressed.

He recalled that both Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund “helped environmental activists in Ufa and Bashkortostan, at least in highlighting the environmental problems of democracy.”

– Their news articles on the websites are read by many media, a fact that allowed the widening of the audience. Greenpeace has backed an environmental activist fight in Ufa against an offshore company with Austrian owner Kronospan. In 2014, when a bill was submitted to the State Duma to repeal the provisions of Article 44 of the Water Code of the Russian Federation on the prohibition of discharge of wastewater into water bodies, thanks to the huge information campaign conducted by Greenpeace, it was not possible to prevent its adoption. “And that means maintaining water quality at least at the same level for all Russians.”

Vera Popova also said that she does not understand “what kind of foreign agent we can talk about”, since both Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund are international organizations.

– Thanks to Greenpeace, we learn about fires in the taiga, about constructions in specially protected natural areas. Thanks to them, we can really maintain the uniqueness of nature reserves and other areas by signing reports. Thanks to this organization, many cities have joined the program for separate waste collection. Greenpeace has developed a map of the territory of the Russian Federation, where you can throw away old and used objects – light bulbs, batteries, glass containers, old clothes, – reminded Irina Kureli.

AN INFORMATION VACANCY IS THREATENING

The activist stressed that if Greenpeace’s activities in Russia are banned or restricted, then “it will be bad first of all for the citizens of the country.”

“We will lose real information about the real situation in the field of nature protection and the environment. Without Greenpeace coordination, it will be more difficult to keep track of changes in environmental legislation and respond quickly to these changes. “In general, I think this is the first step in tackling environmental activists who are gathering a large number of supporters to solve environmental problems,” said Irina Kurely.

The Russian branch of Greenpeace responded to REO’s appeal. The organization recalled that, according to the NGO law, “work in the field of flora and fauna, charity and volunteering is not part of politics and, therefore, environmental organizations should not be included in the list of foreign factors. “

“Greenpeace’s Russian affiliate is not involved in politics, is not a member or supporter of any political party. Greenpeace operates only through private donations, which ensures our independence from politicians and businesses. In Russia, we have almost 40,000 financial supporters, more than “22,000 of them support us with monthly donations,” said the Russian branch of Greenpeace.

The World Wildlife Fund noted that the absence of mandatory annual financial statements on the REO website indicates the opacity of its activities and the organization itself can not be called “Russian”, as it does not comply with “the requirements of applicable law. for this”.

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