Since the days of the USSR, the Russian people have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the country’s environment. The post-Soviet years witnessed an explosion of grassroots, professional, and government-affiliated groups to advocate in this space, but widespread public support and lasting impact on government policy haven’t developed. And now, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prospects for progress on environmental concerns seem especially dim.
David Priess hosted this conversation with author and Bowdoin College Professor of Government Laura Henry about this topic and its implications. They discussed what it was like for her to conduct research across the Russian Federation starting in 1991 and in the decades since, the roots of environmentalism in the Soviet Union, what changed under Boris Yeltsin, how environmental organizations in Russia vary, the benefits and risks to these groups of taking funding from outside Russia, Russia’s Foreign Agent Law, Russian environmentalists’ attention to the oil and gas industry, how to think about measuring “success” of the environmental movement in Russia, how the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted environmental cooperation and impacted climate policy, sources of cautious optimism for the future of the Russian environment, and more.
Works mentioned in this episode:
The book Red to Green: Environmental Activism in Post-Soviet Russia by Laura Henry
The book Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
The book Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Noam Osband and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
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