Environmentalist movement in Russia before and after perestroika
Several types of non-governmental environmentalist organizations dealing with problems of nature conservation can be found in modern Russia.
1. The organizations whose history began before perestroika, such as the Russian Society of nature conservation and its local chapters, student Druzhiny of nature conservation, supplementary educational children organizations, and scientific societies. These organizations were well adapted and successfully solved ecological problems in other social and economic conditions. After perestroika part of them managed to adapt to new conditions and continue to work actively, while another part ceased to exist.
2. “Babies of perestroika”. Among other things, the beginning of perestroika was accompanied by increased environmentalist activity in the society. Among the “civil initiatives” – unification of citizen to protect their constitution rights – the groups coming out with ecological slogans was very conspicuous.
Gradually, the problems of environmental quality were displaced from this movement by economic and social problems. Recently, a new strengthening of the “environmental wing” is again observed in the civil movement. Radical groups standing for alteration of environmentally dangerous social system are most noticeable on a general background. The attempts to convert ecological movement into political one led to formation of several ecological parties. Some of them originated “from below” by unification of groups of ecological activists. Others were organized “from above”, like the KEDR (cedar) party, the coalition of environmentalist officials formed right before the presidential elections.
A separate group is composed of “Children of Captain Grant” - the ecological organization originated as a result of Western financial assistance to Russian ecological movement. Some of these organizations were created exclusively to spend the available funds, others successfully continue their main activity.
As a result of liberalization of life in Russia, international organizations (“Greenpeace”, WWF, etc.) got an opportunity to open their branches in Russia.
The organization that stands out in the structure of modern environmental movement is the Socio-Ecological Union (SES). It is the only international environmental organization originated in Russia during perestroika and extended its activity not only throughout entire Russia, but also outside the countries of the former Soviet Union. SES is an umbrella organization, uniting approximately 280 organizations and more than 500 individual members in 18 countries. Its activity covers a wide specter of environmental problems ranging from conservation of wild nature to environmental education.
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