Ongoing Environmental Protests in Russia Pose Threat to Kremlin in 2019

24 Jan 2019

(EDM) Last year saw a “trash crisis” in Russia, with multiple protests connected to corruption in the garbage collection industry (see EDM, March 12, 2018). The crisis is partially a consequence of Russians’ higher prosperity compared to Soviet times—as Russians buy more goods with more packaging and create more waste, this puts increasing strain on existing trash disposal systems. In many other countries, recycling programs have emerged as an environmentally friendly way of dealing with waste; but in Russia, multiple obstacles exist to the effective implementation of such programs. Additionally, political intrigues at the regional level involved with awarding lucrative trash collection contracts—coupled with pressure to protect local vested interests—have meant that capital-intensive projects like incinerators or recycling programs are repeatedly shunned as solutions. And in the absence of new protocols, many Russian regions continue to rely on old remedies—that is, “to build new dumps” (Rosbalt, April 5, 2018). Because citizens are excluded from resolving this dirty problem, often their only recourse is to protest. [...]

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