Staunton, January 1 – Russia’s just-ended Year of Ecology was marked by “an increase in the number and size of [the country’s] ecological problems, the lack of any real prospects for their resolution, and the liquidation of a constructive public environmental movement,” according to Yury Vdovin of the Bellona Organization.
When Moscow announced this year, the government said that the 12 months would be devoted to the implementation of recent changes in the country’s environmental law (bellona.ru/2017/12/29/yurij-vdovin-god-ekologii-zakanchivaetsya-rostom-kolichestva-i-masshtabov-ekologicheskih-problem/
Rivers are suffering as a result of the dumping of sewage and oil spills, the most recent of which took place in the Neva only two weeks ago, Vdovin says. And ever more places are drowning in trash, with the authorities making promises to clean it up but not yet doing anything significant in most places.
The release of radioactivity from a plant in Chelyabinsk is a reminder that “technogenic catastrophes” in the nuclear sector are inevitable. Unfortunately, the Russian government continues to rely on old reactors dating to Chernobyl times and is building new ones without having come up with a plan to deal with nuclear wastes or any accident.
But instead of welcoming the efforts of environmental activist groups to protect the environment, the Kremlin has moved to “liquidate the independent ecological movement” by harassing its operations, declaring some of its groups “foreign agents,” or even closing the groups down altogether.
The coming year, 2018, has been declared “the Year of Volunteers,” Vdovin says; but it is significant that “places for volunteers in the ecological movement aren’t planned.”