Foreign agent law
Impact on russian environmental organizations
Naturvernforbundet has over many years worked closely with Russian environmental organizations on a number of environmental issues. This work has all the time faced challenges from regulations on Russian side, but the situation deteriorated significantly with new NGO laws that were approved in the Russian Parliament and by the president in 2012.
As Russian organizations decided not to register voluntarily, the Ministry of Justice decided to check around a 1000 organizations during the first half of 2013. From 2014 the Ministry started to include organizations in the register themselves. 2015 has been a challenging year for the Russian organizations. After a period of uncertainty about what the laws would bring and how many it would strike, it became more than clear that the Russian authorities intended to use the law to massively harm and close down civil society organizations. From around 30 organizations in the register in the beginning of the year, the number by the end of November was over 100. It is commonly accepted that the law to a large degree hits human rights’ and environmental organizations. The commissioner for Human rights within European Union expressed in July that “The Commissioner calls on the Russian authorities to revise the legislation on non-commercial organizations in order to establish a clear, coherent and consistent framework in line with applicable European and international standards”.2 Moreover, the organization Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) writes in a recent report3 that also the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) clearly establish that this law constitutes a gross inference with the exercise of fundamental rights, which violates relevant international standards. The most recent event, which is of great concern for Naturvernforbundet and for many other organizations in the broad coalition of partners we cooperate with in Russia and other countries, is the decision to include our partner through 30 years, Green World from outside St. Petersburg, in the register at Friday 20th of November.