Activists work to form Green Party in Russia

A group of environmental activists and scientists is seeking to create a Green political party in Russia, expressing high hopes despite considerable hurdles. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s environmental situation has gone from bad to worse. Environmental standards are among the world’s lowest, the country is a dumping ground for nuclear waste, and male life expectancy is now below 60. The mover behind the nascent party is Alexander Nikitin, who has butted up against the federal government in the past over his publication of a report on nuclear pollution. Most of the nation’s citizens are concerned about the environment, despite Putin’s near-exclusive focus on terrorism, says Nikitin: “Not everybody thinks there’s a terrorist hiding behind every tree.” The group faces an uphill climb, however, as Putin has been moving in a decisively anti-democratic direction, putting in place new legislation consolidating his control and raising further barriers for new parties.