Moscow labelled Wednesday the World Wildlife Fund an “undesirable” organisation, a designation that criminalises its work and puts staff at risk of prosecution, saying the conservation group threatens Russia’s economic security.
Russia is escalating a crackdown to an unprecedented level more than one year into Moscow’s large-scale assault on Ukraine, with independent media and rights groups shut down and most key opposition figures behind bars or in exile.
“The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia decided to recognise the activities of the international non-governmental organisation… the World Wide Fund undesirable in the Russian Federation,” a statement said.
The prosecutors claimed the group was being used in Russia as a “cover for the implementation of projects that present security threats in the economic sphere”.
The statement said the WWF sought to hamper Russia’s plans to develop the Arctic, adding its work targeting the energy and metals sectors was aimed at “shackling” Russia’s economic development.
Moscow also accused the advocacy group of “interfering” in Russia’s internal affairs by supporting local non-governmental organisations whose members took part in unauthorised protests.
Greenpeace was labelled an “undesirable” organisation in Russia in May.
In March, the justice ministry labelled the WWF a “foreign agent”.
The “foreign agent” label has Soviet-era connotations and has been widely used against Kremlin critics.
The designation is however less harsh than the “undesirable” tag and allows organisations to continue operations in the country. — Agence France-Presse