Activist Oppression in Russia

My dear friends at Greenpeace have done a good job at alerting the world to the fate of the Arctic 30 who have had their boat seized and are being held for months awaiting trial for crimes they clearly have not committed.  But my dear friend Lucifer (aka Vladimir Sliviak) wants to remind those willing to listen, that for indigenous activists in Russia, things are far worse.  Below is a recent message from him, which i want to share.

arctic 30 free

Since Western media are not reporting that much anymore on repression against non-governmental groups in Russia (except for the case with jailed Greenpeace activists), i will put some update on this crackdown going on presently. Feel free to send around.

Greenpeace case is getting a lot of coverage in Russia and governmental media broadcasts a lot of bullshit to make sure Russians hate environmental activists of all kinds.

rus 1

Ugly thing happened in the South of Russia, Krasnodar city, close to the site of 2014 Winter Olympic Games just a few days ago. Local police together with FSB (exKGB) tried to catch environmental activist Rudomakha. They came to the office of the local political party threatening to storm it because they thought an activist was inside. But he left earlier. Police gave no explanation, but local people think it is because of the Olympics. Rudomakha spent a lot of time criticizing the destruction of local nature related to Olympics preparations. Fortunately, the activist has still not been arrested.

rus protest 2

The case is not getting much coverage presently – situation with environmental group “Muravievsky park” in the Far East, charged on the basis of “foreign agent” law last summer.  Just to remind you – “foreign agent” law is targeting Russian activists who get money from foreign sources and practicing “political activities”.  Actually, the group in the Far East is very far from any political activities; they were just protecting cranes. Group went to the court last week, to prove that they are not “foreign agents”. And they failed.  Judge said, once this group collected signatures under petition to local governor (about protection of local nature after big fires) – this is political activity and they are “foreign agents”.

rus radsign

Local prosecutor said something similar to Ecodefense in Kaliningrad – we should not interfere with the work of government of any level, we should not make petitions or influence decision makers in any way. Otherwise, it will be treated as “political activities” with fines/closure, etc. (read the testimony below).

rus protest 3

Actually, getting such compliment from Russian authorities is nice, defenitely makes us proud, but we do not want to leave the party yet. Since we were warned, we did a couple of “interferences” and have been lucky so far, getting no serious punishment. Our main “interference” thing is still alive:

rus protest

We await our urgent case over “foreign agent” law in Russia to be considered by the European Court on Human Rights in 2013. Last winter Ecodefense and 10 human rights groups applied to the ECHR, starting procedure against Russian government over this law. We asked European Court to order Russian government to reverse the law because it violates the Convention on Human Rights. I attach here our latest testimony sent to the ECHR, giving some explanation about the threat. (this is quick translation, a little shorter than original testimony in Russian).


Vladimir Slivyak



Testimony for the  European Court on Human Rights

Case 9988/13

from Ecodefense, Russia

July 19, 2013

In April 2013, our organization was checked by governmental prosecutors who requested a large number of official documents putting unrealistic deadlines. We were informed at 6 pm of April 25 that we should bring documents to the prosecutor by 11 am of April 26. We could not follow this order because for some documents we need several days to request and obtain it from the bank and registration chamber…

Checking of our organization resulted in official warning – local prosecutor declared that political activity is mentioned in our statute and warned that we should not violate the law on non-commercial organizations. Prosecutor also told us that we should not interact with governments of any level. Otherwise, it will be identified as “political activity” and our organization will be held responsible as “foreign agent”.

From our point of view, we are not involved in political activity – we do not take part in elections or any other activity aimed at political power. Also, we are not involved in any effort of other people or organizations aimed to obtain political power. Our organization was distanced from political activities since it was established in 1989…

Our goals in the area of environmental protection cannot be achieved without interaction with governments of various levels. At the same time, both – our strong criticism over policies of Russian government and specific political situation in Russia – are reasons which make it almost impossible to obtain funds from Russian sources. That brings us to unpleasant choice – register as “foreign agent” or close down.

This is unacceptable for us to be registered as “foreign agent”. We are not “agents” for any foreign person, organization or government. We make decisions by ourselves only, and do not take into account interests of any third party.

Continuation of our activities leads us to giant fines under “foreign agents” law and also to shut down because we will not be able to pay such fines.


[Edited by Judy Youngquest]