Amsterdam, Netherlands – The Office of the Russian Federation Prosecutor General has declared Greenpeace International an ‘undesirable organisation’ on the grounds that the work of Greenpeace “poses a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and the security of the Russian Federation. With regard to the Russian Federation, the environmental activities of Greenpeace are actually accompanied by the active promotion of a political position, attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the state and are aimed at undermining its economic foundations.”
This decision entails a ban on any Greenpeace International activities in Russia, ending Greenpeace Russia’s proud 30-year history of defending the environment as part of the Greenpeace global network. Greenpeace International condemns the decision.
This misguided decision effectively indicates that it is ‘undesirable’ to protect nature in Russia. What, then, is desirable? To run industrial production that is harmful to nature and human health, spill oil, discharge toxic waste into clean water, make people breathe toxic emissions, burn coal, produce mountains of plastic waste, cut down protected forests, ignore forest fires and do nothing to tackle climate crisis?
It’s clear that Greenpeace International was labelled undesirable because we do not allow disastrous plans threatening nature to be carried out. Every time we oppose them, we have had to overcome intense pressure from those who treat nature solely as a source of commercial income. Consequently, nature protection is now falsely presented as a threat to national security and the interests of Russia.
Anyone who describes Greenpeace’s work as such plainly has no idea of what Greenpeace Russia has been doing for 30 years. Here are just a few examples:
At the initiative of Greenpeace Russia, in 1995 the Virgin Komi Forests became the first site in Russia to get UNESCO protection. Greenpeace Russia not only helped these territories obtain the prestigious international World Heritage status, but also stopped more than 10 attempts to start destructive gold mining there. For 30 years, thanks to our work, other Russia’s territories have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for example, Volcanoes of Kamchatka or Lake Baikal. Together with volunteers, Greenpeace plants and protects forests in national parks, fights forest fires in nature reserves in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.
For more than twenty years, Greenpeace Russia has worked tirelessly to defend Lake Baikal, fighting poachers hunting the Baikal seal and helping bring to an end the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill, which had poisoned the waters of the unique lake for decades. Together with Greenpeace, caring Russians managed to move the site of an oil pipeline which had been planned to be laid just 800 metres from the lake shore. Recently, Greenpeace has been studying Baikal plastic pollution and contamination of its waters with dangerous chemicals, and made efforts to ban mass logging near its shores.
For many years, Greenpeace Russia has fought dangerous toxic pollution with dioxins and other chemicals, preventing hazardous waste imports from other countries. Together with volunteers, Greenpeace patrols identified and removed oil from numerous spills in the North and Siberia. With the help of Greenpeace, the Norilsk Nickel was forced to pay an unprecedented fine of about two billion dollars for the vast Norilsk oil spill in 2020.
Greenpeace Russia was the first to speak out about problems in waste segregation and processing in Russia. After years of work, fighting the construction of hazardous waste incinerators, expert assessments and protests, waste segregation became an everyday routine. In order to help people lead a sustainable lifestyle, Greenpeace and hundreds of volunteers across the country designed and constantly updates the unique Recyclemap, a map indicating about 30,000 waste collection points in 64 cities.
Greenpeace experts conducted studies of the coasts of Russian lakes, rivers and seas, made a nation-wide public audit of coastal pollutants and other research and used these as the basis for a demand to restrict single-use plastic packaging. A ban on its use is expected around 2025.
Together with leading experts, we have done extensive research and proposed concrete solutions to achieve climate neutrality through the development of a circular economy, waste reduction, forest protection, fire prevention, the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
Greenpeace and other environmental organisations in Russia helped to start the public debate on the climate crisis in the country and steps to resolve it. Our experts studied renewable energy sites in Russia, made public proposals that regional authorities include the development of renewable energy sources in their climate change adaptation plans, and in many regions received official support for them.
Thanks to Greenpeace and its supporters, a ban on grass burning was introduced; 25 groups of volunteer forest firefighters were created throughout the country, and now a whole movement of highly skilled volunteers have been working together with Greenpeace to save forests and peat bogs from fires for more than a decade.
These are just a few achievements of Greenpeace in the protection of nature in Russia over 30 years. The organisation has always relied on its supporters – the residents of the country. More than a million people signed petitions, put information on maps, planted forests, put out fires and helped conduct research. Tens of thousands of ordinary Russian citizens supported us financially so that Greenpeace could exist without funding from the state, political parties or businesses.
With Greenpeace International effectively banned for its critical position on environmental issues, this makes the continuation of Greenpeace Russia impossible. Russia will be deprived of one of its leading experts on environmental problems and solutions, and the people who tried to protect nature will now be deprived of a strong ally. The ban on the Greenpeace International activities in Russia is an absurd, irresponsible and destructive step in the face of the climate and biodiversity crises.
NOTE: This post was edited on 26 June 2023 to clarify that the legal entity designated by Russia’s Prosecutor General as “undesirable” is ‘Greenpeace International’. References to ‘the ban on Greenpeace activities’ have been updated to read ‘the ban on Greenpeace International activities’, with the added information that this ‘makes continuing as Greenpeace Russia, defending the environment as part of the Greenpeace global network, impossible’: Greenpeace Russia can no longer operate as ‘Greenpeace’ or be part of the global Greenpeace network campaigning to protect people, climate and nature. Greenpeace Russia’s Annual General Meeting has therefore initiated formal closure of the organisation.
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24/7).