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 5: Interpreting civil society: challenges, change and environmental significance

David Feldman and Ivan Blokov

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


Our NGO survey and case study findings in Chapters 3 and 4, respectively, only partly illuminate the central question posed in the introduction to this book: to what extent is Russia’s civil society poised to exercise greater influence on the course of environmental policy and on emergence of a democratic process of decision making? To fully answer this question, this chapter will explore the significance of our findings in light of other, contemporary studies of the development of civil society in Russia, and in reference to the broader social and economic contexts framing, and constraining, the emergence of an environmental civil society. The first set of contemporary studies we examine are polling data on changing values toward the environment–and toward civil society–most of which have been generated within Russia. Following this examination, we discuss analyses of emerging networks of interest groups and other informal civil society interactions, as well as studies of the relationship between environmental concern and activism on the one hand, and income and other demographic factors on the other. These various approaches may be thought of as scholarly ‘lenses’ through which our own findings can be better focused in order to more clearly comprehend the still formidable challenges facing environmental politics in Russia.

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