Rebranded ecological youth group declared foreign agent
“The only agents we are, are agents of nature,” the group wrote at its site on VKontakte when it became known that the Ministry of Justice in Moscow declared them so-called foreign agents.
“Naturally, we do not agree with the inclusion of us in the register.”
The foreign agent law itself was adopted in 2012 and said that registered organizations could be listed if they conducted political activities and got funding from abroad.
Later, successive amendments in 2017 and 2019 expanded the law to include media, individuals and non-registered associations.
The latest expansion of the law, adopted in July and entering force on December 1, says individuals, organizations, legal entities, or groups without official registration, receiving foreign support, or are “under foreign influence” and conduct activities that authorities would deem to be political would be listed as foreign agents.
The definition of “foreign influence” and “political” could be endlessly broad.
In Arkhangelsk, the Ecological Movement “42” says they don’t know for what reasons it is included on the list.
“Preservation of nature, and hence the preservation of the well-being of future generations, is our main goal and task.”
42 points to the article in the Russian Constitution stating that everyone has the right to a favorable environment.
“We doubt that those people who included us in the register have the same love for our region, for our people, understand the connection of errors with the health and safety of people,” the group says.
The eco-group has over the last years worked actively worked to stop the plans to establish a huge dump field for household waste from Moscow in Shies, far north in the taiga forest in the borderland between Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic.
The group is only for members under the age of 30. It is member of the Russian Social Ecological Union, the Climate Action Network and the Stop Shies Coalition.
Since 2012, 34 environmental organizations in Russia have been included in the foreign agent register.
The “foreign agents” designation, which carries negative Soviet-era connotations, burdens subjects with strict labeling and auditing requirements.
Many independent journalists, activists and civil society figures have been added to the registry in recent years amid a sweeping crackdown on non-Kremlin-aligned voices.