Moscow marks Ecology Day by blocking access to Bellona’s websites within Russia

Frederic Hauge Bellona Founder Frederic Hauge.

The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, or Roskomnadzor, has blocked all of the Bellona Foundations websites in Russia. This was discovered by Bellona employees on the morning of June 5 — which is ironically celebrated as Ecologist’s Day in Russia.  

The blocking of Bellona’s website follows the organization being declared an “undesirable” organization by the Russian prosecutor general’s office in April 2023. Russian authorities claimed that Bellona has “taken actions that undermine the Russian economy, destabilize the socio-political situation in the country, and threaten the foundations of the constitutional system and security of the Russian Federation, and attempt to influence Russian legislation in order to change it.” 

Bellona was active in Russia for more than 30 years. In 1994, Bellona established its first foreign office in Murmansk. In 1998 it opened an office in St. Petersburg, which focused on the environmental rights of Russian citizens.  In 1996, the organization launched Bellona.ru, which served as a critical source of environmental news and information for Russians until it was blocked yesterday. 

Now Bellona’s articles, working papers, reports and our magazine “Environment and Rights” are available to Russians living in their home country only through VPN technology.  

“[Russian authorities] obviously want to avoid information getting out about how poorly they handle environmental risks and what they expose their own population to. Bellona must continue to document this, even if the working conditions become more dangerous and difficult”, says Bellona founder Frederic Hauge. 

The websites of the other major environmental NGO Greenpeace were blocked as well — forcing Russian citizens to use VPN to access environmental information, or to find it via Telegram, YouTube or mailing lists. 

“It’s a dramatic act of censorship showing the political weakness of the current regime in Russia. Bellona must continue to document environmental risks in Russia and Ukraine as we did before,” said Hauge. “The blowing up of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River today shows that the risks in Ukraine are rising and the Russian public needs to know that. So, we have to continue to document this and the role of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Russian authorities in the hostilities in Ukraine,” Hauge added.