Macquarie University
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Non-governmental organisations and environmental governance in Russia

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:22 authored by Ekaterina Sofronova
This thesis examines the role of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in environmental governance in Russia. Environmental problems in Russia emerged as results of the rapid industrial development and over-exploitation of the natural resources. Today, environmental problems remain a persistent issue in Russia as the current Government has prioritised economic development of the country over environmental values. As a result, Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (ENGOs) have accordingly begun to respond to the Russian Government’s environmental policies. While the growing roles of ENGOs in environmental governance have been explored in Western democracies, little attention has been paid to these developments in Russia. A key issue for the new roles of ENGOs is their agency - the capacities of ENGOs to produce environmental outcomes and respond to changes in governance in Russia. This thesis asks the question: do ENGOs have agency in environmental governance in Russia and what are the conditions for their agency? This study aims to broaden our understanding of the roles of ENGOs in environmental governance beyond Western democracies’ political domains. To achieve these aims, the thesis studies conditions and constraints for ENGOs effective, legitimate and authoritative participation in Russian environmental governance. This study draws on research interviews, reports and relevant literature. It examines the historical development of ENGOs in Russia, evaluates Russian laws regulating NGOs and compares these laws with those of other countries, explores changes in ENGO strategies and identifies implications of these changes for theory and the roles of ENGOs in governance. The findings reveal that although ENGOs have expanded their roles in Russian environmental governance, they are targets of strong governmental control and their public support is low. This conclusion leads the thesis to advance six principles that would help to enhance ENGO agency in Russia. The thesis also identifies two key contributions to the underexamined theoretical issue of ENGO agency, namely, what does agency mean in different contexts and what does agency beyond the state mean for understanding the state’s role? The findings demonstrated that the agency of ENGOs varies depending on the area of environmental governance, historical periods and political, legal and economic contexts, which can limit or enhance the agency of ENGOs. This thesis also finds that as ENGOs have achieved limited agency, there has been a related reconfiguration in the role of the Russian state. However, such reconfiguration has not meant a complete change of traditional state roles and, in many ways, appears conditional and tokenistic in the Russian context.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Growing roles of non-governmental organisations in governance -- Chapter 2. NGOs, civil society and governance theories -- Chapter 3. History of Russian NGOs : the place and role of the Soviet public environmental groups in the Soviet Union -- Chapter 4. Legal framework for operation of NGOs in Russia -- Chapter 5. Legal regulations on NGO operation : comparative study -- Chapter 6. Russian environmental non-governmental organisations: Strategies of influence -- Chapter 7. Legitimacy of ENGOs in Russia -- Chapter 8. Towards effective ENGO participation in Russia.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 248-277

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie Law School

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Law School

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Vijaya Nagarajan

Additional Supervisor 1

Cameron Holley


Copyright Ekaterina Sofronova 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




Russia (Federation)


1 online resource (ix, 288 pages)

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