In a striking twist, the Russian government has declared environmental organization Greenpeace as ‘undesirable’, forcing the organization to end its activities in the country. Greenpeace recently confirmed this through a press statement.
The announcement came last Friday from the Russian prosecutor’s office, which called Greenpeace “undesirable” based on claims the organization attempted to intervene in state affairs and spread “anti-Russian propaganda”. Greenpeace was also accused of calling for sanctions against Russia. Greenpeace responded to these allegations and claims to be punished for their protests against environmentally destructive plans, including logging and air and soil pollution.
Greenpeace Russia President Sergey Tsiplenkov admitted that the organization is now being forced to cease operations as “any action we take from this point forward would be illegal in Russia.” Despite the bleak history of successful appeals against such decisions, Tsiplenkov is considering appealing against the Russian government’s decision.
Since 2015, Russia has declared dozens of organizations ‘undesirable’, mainly those focusing on civil rights and anti-corruption. “We knew this could happen,” Tsiplenkov explained, “but we were still not fully prepared for it. We hope that nature conservation in our country will still be possible, and that individual Greenpeace employees, including myself, will not be prosecuted.”
This is not the first time that Greenpeace has come into conflict with the Russian authorities. In 2013, the organization was prosecuted when employees protested against Russian oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean. Their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, which sailed under the Dutch flag, was boarded in international waters by Russian commandos and the crew was temporarily detained.
In 2015, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Russia had acted in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and that the country had to pay compensation to the Netherlands. Although Russia initially did not recognize the court’s authority, the country eventually paid a settlement of 2.7 million euros to Greenpeace in 2019.