The group is partly funded by their Norwegian co-partner, but says they will not cease receiving funding from abroad.
“I think we will not cease to receive funding from abroad. We will look for other opportunities in this difficult matter,” says Director of Kola Ecological Center (KEC), Yura Ivanov to BarentsObserver.
The organization is actively working with environmental questions on the Kola Peninsula.
Norwegian partner Kola Ecological Centre has a long history of cooperation with the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature, including a joint program promoting safe decommissioning of older reactors at nuclear power plants in Russia.
“There are few environmental organizations that want to sign up. What implications this new law will have for the organizations are still very unclear, both in regard to those who will sign up and those who doesn’t,” says head of international department, Yngvild Lorentzen.
The law saying that Russian NGOs, that receive funding from abroad and are involved in political activity, will have to register as “Foreign Agents” was passed by the parliament this summer and later sign by President Vladimir Putin. It enters force from next Wednesday.
No political activity “In early October, our organization held a council meeting on this issue. Our Council decided that we will not register as a “Foreign Agent” because we do not participate in political activities, and we do not conduct political activities. Or organization protects and preserves nature. And we are equal partners with the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature in our joint projects, especially because we are neighbors and we have a common border,” says Yura Ivanov.
“We collaborate on difficult environmental problems, and not doing anyone’s bidding.”
Project funding from Norway A part of the funding to Kola Environmental Center comes from the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature that again gets this as project funding from Norwegian authorities.
“The majority of the budget [is transferred from the Norwegian partner], after the Swedes stopped financing Russia. KEC has some income from Nordic Council of Ministers, membership fees, support etc., but this is little compared with the support from us”, says Yngvild Lorentzen.
She says the project support from them comes from both the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and the Foreign Ministry
Already got a indirect warning Yura Ivanov says he already have got some hints that his organization is under watch. In early November, when Yura was in St. Petersburg for a conference, he was contacted by an anonymous man and they agreed to meet at the entrance of a subway station.
“He asked me if I knew the new law on NGOs, and then said that supposedly he had a list of regional NGOs that will have a lot of tests and challenges after the NGO law enters force. He said that in the Murmansk region there are two NGOs, our Kola Ecological Centre and Nature and Youth,” says Yura Ivanov.
Director of Kola Ecological Centre Yura Ivanov.
Representatives of Kola Ecological Centre, Green World and Norwegian Society for Conservation of Nature at a meeting in St. Petersburg in early November. Yura Ivanov and Yngvild Lorentzen are the two to the left.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal today leaves port of Murmansk for a two-month expedition to the Russian Arctic. The aim for the expedition is to study ice and weather conditions in the area to prepare for future oil and gas projects.
The National Archives Service of Finland and the Sámi Archives have proposed including the Skolt Sámi archives in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Only 301 items have been listed in the register so far.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.