Russian environmental activist Alexandra Korolewa has fled to Germany.
She told the German press agency DPA she was scared she was going to be arrested.
“I was scared they were going to throw me in prison”, she said. Ms Korolewa is the director of the Russian organisation Ecodefense, which is facing five charges in Russia. Her organisation said she is seeking asylum in Germany. “Ecodefense needs protection and we hope to get it in Germany”.
Non-governmental organisations in Russia have had to register as “foreign agents” if they get financing from outside Russia since 2012. They risk fines or being closed down if they don’t. Numerous NGOs have said their work has become much more difficult because registering this way stigmatises them: the term “agent” has negative connotations in Russian.
“I’m worried about my colleagues who continue to work under immense pressure in Russia”, says Ms Korolewa. Her organisation is fighting nuclear-based power and coal mining. One of their 2013 campaigns led to investors pulling out of a project to build a nuclear plant in the Kaliningrad region.
“Protecting the environment is becoming more and more important, but the government and big businesses are increasingly trying to destroy the planet to make money”.
Ecodefense was founded in 1989 and is one of the oldest Russian environmental organisations. Demonstrations calling for better protection for the environment have been increasing in the country recently.