WWF declared ‘undesirable’ in Russia
Russia’s Prosecutor-General on Wednesday declared the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also known as the World Wildlife Fund, “undesirable.” Moscow accused the Switzerland-based nonprofit of working on behalf of the US against Russia’s economic and security interests, especially in the Arctic.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office said that the WWF used environmental and educational activities “as a cover for implementing projects that pose security threats in the economic sphere.”
Specifically, “under the pretext of preserving the environment, the WWF is carrying out activities aimed at preventing the implementation of [Russia’s] policies for the industrial development and exploration of natural resources in the Arctic territories, while developing and legitimizing restrictions that could serve as a basis for transferring the Northern Sea Route into the exclusive economic zone of the US.”
The NGO is especially targeting large enterprises engaged in the energy sector, the oil and gas industry, and also the mining of mineral deposits and precious metals, according to Russian officials. The Prosecutor-General’s Office in particular objected to the WWF’s use of the ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance) scores to rate Russian companies, which are based solely on the “subjective standards and criteria developed by the WWF.”
The WWF has provided material and other support for several Russian NGOs that have been included in the registry of foreign agents, such as ‘Friends of the Baltic’ and the ‘Sakhalin Environmental Watch’. The Russian Ministry of Justice declared the WWF itself a foreign agent in March this year.
Being declared undesirable is an effective ban on the organization. It must shut down its offices in Russia, and doing business with it is punishable with a fine or jail in case of repeat offenders. The first organization to be designated so was the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in 2015.
Another environmentalist NGO, Greenpeace, was declared unwelcome last month after allegations it had sought destabilization and change of government in Russia “through unconstitutional means.”