For more than a year, we have been following the saga of Russia’s crackdown on civil society and in particular the state’s efforts to disempower or shut down the country’s most active and effective anti-nuclear organization, Ecodefense. As we reported last June, Russia labeled Ecodefense a “foreign agent”–essentially accusing it of spying and being controlled by outside nations. It, and a handful of human rights organizations, were the first in the nation to be targeted under Russia’s “foreign agent” law adopted in 2012 but only begun to be enforced last year. The law is ostensibly aimed at reducing Western influence in Russia; in reality it’s attempting to weaken all organizations that seek to challenge any aspect of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Ecodefense is being targeted for its success in organizing and mobilizing the public and stopping construction of new nuclear reactors in the nation, not for posing a threat to the government. Continue reading
This post originally appeared on dianuke.org, a site run by a group of dedicated people working against nuclear power in India particularly and South Asia generally. It also ran on the Mining Awareness blog, from which we repost it with a few edits.
Vladimir Sliviak is an ex-officio board member of NIRS and the longtime leader of Ecodefense in Russia. His reports on the Russian government’s crackdown on civil society, including on Ecodefense, appeared several times on GreenWorld last year (just search for “Ecodefense” and you’ll find them).
DiaNuke.org interviewed the eminent environmentalist Vladimir Slivyak, whose group EcoDefense has been facing repression in Russia for exposing the lack of nuclear safety and environmental impacts. His report on the status of nuclear industry in Russia, prepared at the request of the African environmental group Earthlife, was published recently. Africa is also an important market that the Russian nuclear giant Atomsroyexport is eying. Continue reading
On July 8, we posted that the Russian anti-nuclear group Ecodefense was being labeled a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities–a designation that would cripple the organization’s activities.
The Russian government made the designation official on Monday of this week–even before a court hearing on the issue, already scheduled to take place on August 25. A report from the Norwegian group Bellona on the designation–and that of four prominent Russian human rights organizations–is here.
Today, Ecodefense filed its own lawsuit against the Russian Ministry of Justice’s designation of the group as a foreign agent. Continue reading for Ecodefense’s statement about this lawsuit. Continue reading
On June 16, 2014, GreenWorld reported that Russia’s Ecodefense, a part of the international NIRS/WISE network, had been targeted by Russian authorities and labeled as a “foreign agent,” a designation that if upheld could effectively end the organization. Today, Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Ecodefense, explains the government’s actions, Ecodefense’s refusal to accept “foreign agent” status, and what comes next.
MOSCOW–In 2012, Russia adopted the notorious law that forces registration as “foreign agents” non-governmental organizations that engage in “political activities” and also receive funding from abroad. Since then, no organization actually engaged in political activity has come to harm from the new law. Rather, trouble has started for those who have always distanced themselves from the political process and focused on protecting the rights of Russian citizens.
In 2013, a group of eleven NGOs–mostly human rights organizations as well as the environmental group Ecodefense–filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the “foreign agent” law violates the rights of Russian citizens. Court proceedings are currently pending.
In June 2014, the Russian Ministry of Justice embarked on a campaign aimed at labeling Ecodefense, which is one of Russia’s oldest environmental organizations, as a “foreign agent.” This is the first such attack against an environmental NGO since a legislative change that came into effect in early June gave the ministry discretion to forcibly include non-governmental organizations on the “foreign agent” roster (thus expanding significantly the authorities’ mandate, which had previously required that a prosecutorial inspection first make a “foreign agent” finding against an NGO and then have that claim supported by a court decision). Continue reading
Today, Russia’s Ecodefense, the leading anti-nuclear power organization in the country, was branded a “foreign agent” by the Russian government. Under Russian law adopted recently, non-profit organizations that fail to register as a “foreign agent” but are found to be one can be subject to large fines and dissolution of the organization. While part of the international NIRS/WISE network, Ecodefense was founded in Russia, is based in Russia, and has focused on issues affecting Russia. It has, for those reasons, refused to register as a “foreign agent,” which in Russia is tantamount to an admission that the organization is controlled from abroad and effectively is undertaking espionage activities on behalf of other nations–neither of which is true in the case of Ecodefense.
In April, GreenWorld posted a piece from Ecodefense’s Vladimir Sliviak on the growing repression in Russia and how it seemed Ecodefense was being targeted by the government. Today that piece is all too prescient.
Today, we post a press release from Ecodefense on this latest crackdown on civil society in Russia. Continue reading
One of the most disappointing aspects of the Ukrainian crisis has been the failure of many, especially on the left, to understand the nature of the revolution that took place there over the winter that led to the literal departure of former President Victor Yanukovich from the country, established an interim–and rather weak–transitional government, and set the stage for new elections later this month.
It as if some on the left have become as reflexively dismissive of the Obama Administration as the Tea Party and simply reject whatever stand the Administration takes. In this case, however, the Administration has chosen the correct side. And that has led some on the left to parrot the worst of Putin’s propaganda machine, leading too many to believe that somehow fascists have taken over Ukraine and are trying to undermine the people of eastern Ukraine.
In fact, the opposite is the case. As we have pointed out in these pages, the Ukrainian revolution was led by people like us: anti-nukers and environmentalists generally played a major role in its success; so did other ordinary people fed up with the chronic corruption that has ruled Ukraine since its independence and that reached its peak under Yanukovich, who with his family and allies essentially looted the entire nation’s bank accounts.
The Russian invasion and takeover of Crimea has proven to be extremely popular for Vladimir Putin, and has given rise to a new–and somewhat frightening–level of Russian nationalism. While the popularity boost may be temporary: further Russian aggression, exactly the kind that began over the weekend in eastern Ukraine with armed soldiers in identical uniforms without insignia taking over government buildings in a number of cities and towns, is likely to both ultimately fail (recent polls show that even in eastern Ukraine, only about 4% of the public wants to be annexed by Russia) and cause serious damage to Russia’s economy.
Even though apparently popular, support for Putin’s policies has hardly been unanimous. Few realize that 50,000 people protested in Moscow last month against the Crimea takeover, and yesterday 10,000 joined a new protest against both Russia’s actions toward Ukraine and the country’s shutdown of most independent media outlets.