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Ecodefense accused of being a 'foreign agent'

(June 17, 2014) The Russian government has declared the well-known environmental organization Ecodefense a “foreign agent" for resisting the construction of nuclear power plant near Kaliningrad. This perfectly fits in the campaign of the Russian government against independent and critical NGO's in general. What helps is to spread the word and show your solidarity with the struggle of Ecodefensie against nuclear power in their country. We publish here their press release: Ecodefense has never been involved in political activities and has never served any “foreign interests.” Our goal is to protect the environment and people and we intend to use all legal avenues at our disposal to defend our honest name in court.  On June 16 Ecodefense received an inspection report from the Ministry of Justice of Russia which declared our organization  a “foreign agent.” This decision is unjustified: Throughout its entire history, Ecodefense has made and continues to make decisions by a council consisting of Russian citizens, and never in the interests of any foreign entities. As a matter of principle, Ecodefense has never participated in politics, which we understand as efforts aimed to get access to political power. The decision by the Ministry of Justice is based on the fact that Ecodefense actively campaigned for many years against the construction of a nuclear power plant near the city of Kaliningrad.  The campaign was ongoing since 2007 and we at Ecodefense were happy when the construction was stopped last year. At the same time, we have been running other projects and campaigns focused, among other issues, on coal, nuclear waste, as well as environmental education and information/media activities, etc. For some reason, however, the Ministry of Justice was interested specifically in one campaign against that nuclear power plant construction.

Notably, a previous inspection by the Russian authorities – undertaken in April 2013 by the Office of Prosecutor General –did not find any problems with Ecodefense’s activities. Two months later, the construction of the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant near Kaliningrad was finally abandoned. During the time between the two inspections Ecodefense did not practice any new methods or approaches in this campaign. This is why we understand today’s action by the Ministry of Justice against us to be an act of revenge for our campaign, a campaign that helped to stop nuclear construction.

We at Ecodefense insist that public actions and speeches in opposition to the construction of the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant – a sentiment shared by a vast majority of citizens in Kaliningrad Region – are not political activity that may qualify us as “foreign agents.” Our actions were and remain to be aimed at protecting the right of Russian citizens to a favorable environment as guaranteed by the Russian Constitution. We regret that the Russian authorities have opted to use this act of repression and we are prepared to protect our reputation in court if needed.

Please sign the petition in solidarity with Ecodefense.

Additional information

Ecodefense is a Russian environmental group founded in 1989 in Kaliningrad; it runs its activities mostly in Russia through coordinators in Moscow, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg, and other cities. For the past 25 years, Ecodefense has successfully campaigned against import of nuclear waste into Russia from other countries, as well as against a variety of other environmental risks related to nuclear, coal, oil drilling, and other industrial activities  that are hazardous to people and the environment. Ecodefense has also been involved in activities relating to climate issues and promoting renewable energy. Hundreds of teachers and thousands of schoolkids have taken part in Ecodefense’s programs on environmental education in the past two decades.