Today the All Russian Emergency Conference on the Environment met in Moscow
at the Main Hall of the Polytechnic Museum, near Staraya Ploschad
("Old Square") in the center of the city. The meeting was
initiated by a "Round Table" of non-governmental organizations.
While the organizers expected from two-hundred to two-hundred and fifty to
attend, in fact there were 387 in attendance from fifty-one regions of the
My (Yablokov's) presentation of twenty-five minutes was followed by V. A.
Grachev, the Chair of the State Duma Committee of Ecology who spoke for about
forty minutes. Then Boris A. Yatskevitch, the Minister of Natural
Resources, spoke for forty minutes, and afterwards responded to questions for
about an hour. Finally, reports were offered by several officials from the
abolished Forest Service and Committee on Environmental Protection (Goskomekology),
and from the surviving Hydrometeorology Service.
A heated discussion of several hours ensued.
The conference adopted strong resolutions in support of the abolished
agencies, along with open letters to President Vladimir Putin, to the State
Duma, to the Federal Council, to the Russian People, to the NGOs, and to
the International Community. [See below].
The Minister of Natural Resources looked unhappy, though he was friendly with
the conveners. He announced that the state environmental experts will be
separated from his ministry, and that environmental monitoring will be
concentrated in the Hydrometeorogy Service (Roshydromet). The Ministry's
new title will be "The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection." The national parks will be combined with the zapovedniks
(nature reserves) into special departments.
This means that our united pressure will have small but identifiable
results. Yesterday we initiated the official process of enacting
all-Russian referenda on the three questions: restoring the state Forest
Services, restoring the state Nature Protection Committee, and banning the
importation of radioactive materials for storage. The next step will be to
register these initiatives and, if that is successful, to attempt to collect two
million signatures in at least thirty federal territories. We are using
these procedures to pressure government officials to restore these agencies.
A copy of the letter to the
International Environmental Community follows below.
To Environmental NGOs all over Globe
The All-Russian Conference on
Environmental Protection (Moscow, 13 June 2000) notes with alarm that the
Russian Government the State Committee on Environmental Protection has been
abolished, while in the Federal Assembly increasingly stronger attempts are
being made to weaken the existing environmental laws, the budgetary
appropriations for environmental protection are continuously reduced, the
Ministry of Education is making attempts to exclude environmental education
from the high school course, the Public Prosecutor’s and the Federal
Security Services are making unjustified claims on environmental NGOs, the
mass media are publishing less and less true environmental information.
There is an impression that the
strategy of the country’s development worked out by the Government proceeds
from the assumption that following the weakening of environmental
restrictions and requirements Russia would be more attractive for investors,
the overcoming of the economic crisis is supposed to be carried out through
creating an environmental crisis and Russia’s environmental problems must be
resolved only after the solution of its economic problems!
Russian public environmental organizations are doing a lot to stop this
dangerous process of de-ecologization of Russia. However, our influence is
not strong enough to do that.
We are convinced that the environmental well-being of the biggest country of
the world cannot be indifferent for other countries: successful resolving of
Russia’s environmental issues will cause a beneficial effect on the solution
of global environmental issues as well as on environmental situation in
We appeal the environmental NGOs all over globe for sharing with us their
experience in resolving issues of environmental protection, in influencing
decision-making in the realm of harmonized blending of safe nature
management and sustainable economic development.
For the clean Earth, clear air and crystal waters!
behalf of the Conference, Co-Chairs of the Environmental NGO Round Table
Barishpol, Chair of Presidium, The All-Russian Society for Nature Protection
Baranovsky, President, The Russian Ecological Congress
Yablokov, Co-Chair, The International Socio-Ecological Union