Thursday, February 18, 2016

Russian Environmentalists Increasingly Using Internet as Force Multiplier

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 18 – Given the difficulties environmentalists face in breaking through in state-controlled or influenced media, they are increasingly using the Internet for advancing their goals crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, mobilization of those concerned about ecological issues, and the organization of petition drives and complaints to officials.

            In the current issue of “Ekologiya i pravo,” Tatyana Chestina of the Bellona organization says that while they were relatively slow to start, ecological activists and environmentalist NGOs in the Russian Federation increasingly are adding Internet to their arsenal in order to win victories for their cause (

                “The simplest and most widely used means,” she writes, “is the establishment of groups on particular problems on social networks and inviting to them as many potential supporters as possible. One recent example is that of the “Krasnoyarsk is Against” group, which opposed the construction of a polluting factory and attracted more than 40,000 backers in a few weeks.

            Another increasingly important tool is the collection of signatures on online petitions, either posted on a particular group’s webpage or on platforms like,, and And still a third is the organization of volunteers in support of a program such a recycling as via

            But perhaps the most important are those efforts, created by environmentalist groups, that then become common property of all Russian citizens. In the northern capital, there is the “Beautiful Petersburg” site at красивыйпетербург.рф. Created by ecological activists, it has allowed 45,000 city residents to complain to officials about a variety of issues.

            Of course, Chestina says, these complaints don’t always achieve their goals; but if enough people complain about any particular issue, that helps shape the discussion of the problem among officials and promises a better outcome than would have been possible without them.  It is thus an important form of public opinion.

            Finally, the “Ekologiya i parvo” writer says, there are an increasing number of environmental aps, many of which are available in the ecological section of They not only disseminate general information about environmental issues but provide guidance in forming environmental groups and on the best ways to overcome official resistance.

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