Veteran Russian ecologists set up Green party

Published June 6th 2005 in Gulf Times
Some of Russia’s leading opposition ecologists joined forces yesterday to launch the Green Russia party which they said could become an influential political force ahead of parliamentary elections in 2007.

Delegates chose World Environment Day for the meeting in Korolyov, outside Moscow, where they debated the party’s charter and were voting on a leadership, Interfax news agency said. The provisional name chosen was Green Russia, Russian television reported.

Alexei Yablokov, a respected nuclear safety campaigner and an adviser in the 1990s to then-president Boris Yeltsin, said he would be nominated as chairman.

Yablokov, who has also campaigned for human rights in Russia, said there were hopes the Greens could unite other Russian ecological organisations and become a significant minority in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in the 2007 elections.

“We won’t get a majority, but we could become a key partner without which you can’t take decisions, just like they did in Germany,” he said on Russian television.

Yablokov was among civic society leaders who met with US President George W Bush during his visit to Moscow in May. According to Yablokov, he warned the US leader of growing authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin.

Other major figures in the new party included Alexander Nikitin, a former Soviet naval captain who was arrested and accused of treason in 1996 after preparing a report with Norway’s Bellona Foundation on safety problems in Russia’s nuclear fleet.

Under a new law, parties entering parliament under proportional representation must gather a minimum 7% of the vote to win seats. Previously, the threshold was 5%. To be able to participate, parties must also have 50,000 registered members, up from 10,000 under the old rules.

The State Duma is currently dominated overwhelmingly by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.