Ministry of Justice designates Bellona in St Petersburg a 'foreign agent'

posted 18 Jan 2017, 13:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jan 2017, 13:50 ]
17 January 2017


The website has reported the Ministry of Justice statement that it has entered the Bellona Environmental Human Rights Centre of St. Petersburg into the register of ‘foreign agent’ NGOs.

According to one of the organization’s experts, Nikolai Rybakov, who for many years until recently had been head of St. Petersburg Bellona, this list reflects the true nature of the state of Russian civil society, to the extent that to be included in the list, is tantamount to a warranty of high quality.

According to Rybakov, in the course of protecting the interests of civil society activists and ordinary citizens, whose right to a favourable environment is being violated, Bellona often obstructs the business interests of large companies, so that the pressure on Bellona from the authorities comes as no surprise, Tatyana Voltskaya of Radio Svoboda reports.

The expert, Rybakov believes that the law on "foreign agents "is extremely harmful and unconstitutional. At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that environmental organizations are excluded from the application of this law. Nevertheless, they are very well represented in the list of the registry of the Ministry of Justice.

St Petersburg Bellona constitutes a section of the international environmental organisation of the same name. Bellona has existed in Russia since 1998. Bellona at the international level raises questions of environmental safety, protection and human rights.

It prepares reports and independent expert advice on safety in nuclear energy, spent fuel management, the transportation of oil and gas and renewable energy development.

Nikolai Rybakov recalled that Bellona had participated in the struggle against the construction of the Okhta Center, against the destruction of Khimki forest, and protected Siversky forest from building developments. Bellona constantly consults civil society activists who defend their forests, rivers and lakes from officials who are constructing their own summer residences there.

The human rights activists at Bellona believe that the state struggling with the environmentalists harms, not so much the organisation itself, but countless citizens who are consequently less protected from the tyranny of businessmen and officials.

Translated by Graham Jones