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Social activism in general and environmental struggles in particular are under threat in Russia today. The so-called “Foreign Agents Law” is effectively silencing several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or directly forcing them to dissolve. Continuing the work for environmental protection is really a huge challenge in current Russia.
This is what activist Vitaly Servetnik, co-chair of the Russian Social-Ecological Union (RSEU) - Friends of the Earth Russia, said in an exclusive interview with Real World Radio.
The Russian law on Foreign Agents, passed in 2013, states that NGOs receiving grants from abroad while being involved in political activities must label themselves as foreign agents. The reference to “foreign agent” in Russia is directly associated with espionage during Cold War times. The law has been questioned at national and international level by several social actors who consider it violates human rights and that it was created to weaken opposition groups.
By the end of April 2017, 160 organizations were branded as "foreign agents", stigmatizing the organizations and leading many of them to dissolve entirely. Naturvernforbundet - Friends of the Earth Norway published the report “Pressure towards Russian environmental NGOs. Status of Russia’s Foreign Agents law and consequences for civil society in 2016” (attached), with Servetnik as one of its co-authors, where he expresses concerns for the uncertain future of the Russian civil society.
Real World Radio shares this interview with Vitaly Servetnik aiming to deepen on the conditions of social and environmental activism in Russia today and the violent consequences of the foreign agents law on environmental defenders.
Imagen: Naturvernforbundet - Friends of the Earth Norway
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