The Politics of Environmental Policy in Russia

The Politics of Environmental Policy in Russia

David Feldman and Ivan Blokov

The authors, renowned experts in the field, explore efforts to develop a mature civil society in Russia, and analyse the policy views of environmental groups, the media, and the scientific community. Three important case studies underpin the study: suspended plans to build an oil pipeline near Lake Baikal; management of Cold War-generated radioactive waste at Chelyabinsk; and public reaction to the introduction of genetically modified foods. The conclusion is that although civil society groups face obstacles in the form of apathy, state-imposed constraints on their activities, and agency reluctance to confer on decisions, there are some successes in reversing decisions due in part to NGO pressures yielding reform.

Chapter 2: Russia’s environmental challenges and their management

David Feldman and Ivan Blokov

Subjects: environment, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, management natural resources, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


This chapter assesses Russia’s environmental conditions by focusing on the broad and persistent ecological legacy that has framed policy debate in Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union. We preface our discussion with the word ‘broad,’ because reliable information about these impacts–and the conditions facing Russia’s environment over the past 15 years–only became available well after 1991. As the quote at the beginning of this chapter indicates, many although certainly not all of Russia’s most serious environmental problems are the product of industrialization, resource exploitation and urbanization that occurred at a horrendous pace under communism. Much of this frenetic activity took place under various fiveyear plans promulgated in the Soviet Union beginning in the late 1920s. There remains considerable uncertainty and even skepticism regarding the reliability and accuracy of many environmental and natural resources data today. In part, this is accounted for by the belief that the state spends insufficient resources on environmental regulation (and, thus, on the collection of data important to that effort). However, other factors may be important as well, including the fact that many data are self-reported, not always adequately monitored or validated, or even collected.

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