Moscow Times: Russian Greens “torn between ballots and barricades”

The Moscow Times has published an article on Russian environmentalists’ plans to form a new green party:

Later this month, the small Moscow region town of Mozhaisk will witness the birth of a new political party.

Or at least, that is the plan. Oleg Mitvol — a former environmental inspector who made a name for himself exposing infractions by Shell and other foreign companies investing in Russia’s natural resource sector during the mid-2000s — announced the creation of his Green Alliance party in March.

Taking advantage of reforms introduced by President Dmitry Medvedev in response to mass demonstrations in December, Mitvol envisions the new organization as the country’s first real green party, forging disparate environmental movements into one mighty lobby group.

“Someone is defending Khimki [forest], and someone else is defending Lake Baikal and elsewhere other people are fighting their local battles. But there is no one to bring them together,” he said.

“By the time of the next Duma elections in 2016, we will be the third-largest party in the country, after the Communists and the ‘party of power’ [as he calls United Russia],” he declared boldly during an interview in Moscow.

The plan is impressive. Based on Mitvol’s own Green Alternative campaign group, which in 2009 won a surprise victory over United Russia in Mozhaisk’s mayoral election, the Green Alliance will be contesting local elections by autumn. Mitvol has already singled out Kaliningrad and Samara as target regions where the environmental message should strike a chord with voters.

But as he is learning, bringing environmentalists together is like herding cats.

Dave Schwab

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