Grigory Pasko: The Kremlin’s Potemkin Green Movement


Right around the same time that the world’s well-meaning politicians professed their concern for the environment at the Copenhagen conference, the Russian authorities launched their own official version of an environmental advocacy group, even including the novel and unexpected title – “the Russian green movement” (RGM).

And the participants in the founding conference also talked about things that no doubt nobody knew before, had never voiced before, had never propagandized before: humanity is in danger; we are standing on the threshold of a new civilization – “the green age”; each person has the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, use ecologically pure products… The Volga falls into the Caspian Sea; freedom is better than captivity…

The plans of the RGM are grandiose too: they are rushing to apply before the Ministry of Justice to open 45 regional branches as soon as possible, and by the year 2010 they are looking to host an international festival of ecological cinema, “Green carnation,” in Sochi of course.. (Have you ever seen green carnations? Me too).

And the leaders of the RGM are of all kinds: television presenters Svetlana Konegen (see photo), Tutta Larsen [an MTV-Russia VJ–Trans.] and Yana Poplavskaya, ex-deputies to the State Duma Semenov, Koptev, Dines and Kosarikov. ..

A quick glance at the list of the leaders was enough to identify, at a minimum, two problems: a glut of underworked television personalities and gaps in the employment section of the resumes of ex-deputies to the SD.


And yet another problem-question: why didn’t anybody tell the leaders of the new movement that there already is a green movement in Russia, uniting dozens of well-known organizations that have positively recommended themselves? Furthermore, this already-existing movement conducted its own conference in March of this year, in which 157 leaders and activists of 67 ecological and human rights NGOs took part, including Greenpeace, WWF-Russia, the Center for the Protection of Wild Nature, the International Socio-Economic Union, the Union “For chemical safety”, «Bellona-Saint-Petersburg» and many, many others. The members of the organizing committee of the March movement, of course, aren’t as famous as in the RGM, but are also people respected in the «green world»: Alexey Yablokov, Svyatoslav Zabelin, Vladimir Zakharov, Alexey Zimenko, Askhat Kayumov, Alexander Nikitin, Andrey Rudomakha, Vladimir Slivyak, Lev Fedorov, Igor Chestin, Olga Tsepilova, Ivan Blokov…

It goes without saying that I’m not against yet another green movement: let there be ten or a hundred of them! It’s all better than entering into the ranks of the fascists, «nashists» and various and sundry other -ists.

But, I’m thinking, there’d be a lot more sense from all these movements if they would act in a coordinated manner, interactively, conjointly… After all, judging by the proclaimed slogans, they’ve all got the same goals.

Or am I mistaken?

Are we seeing on the horizon – yet another «cardboard decoy», that is a papier-maché dummy?

Along the lines of the pro-putinist Media-Union instead of the old Union of Journalists?

Along the lines of the pro-putinist Public Chamber instead of the old human rights NGOs?

Along the lines of the updated (understood for whom) Constitution instead of the old one with its four-year term of presidential powers?

Along the lines of Putin’s «managed» democracy instead of the kind that everybody understands and that works just fine in many countries of the world?

Upper image:  One of the leaders of the new Russian Green Movement, Svetlana

Lower image:  “Green movement of Russia – ecological challenges”.