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Silver Taiga Fund was declared a foreign agent because of the requirement to refuse to merge the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic

Komi regional social fund 'Silver Taiga' was included in the register of 'non-profit organizations performing the function of a foreign agent' on June 14.

One of the reasons was the organization's appeal to the head of the Komi Sergey Gaplikov with a proposal to suspend the order to merge the regional ministries of industry, energy and transport and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. The fund's director Yuri Pautov called the merger illogical, since the decision was made without the participation of experts and public figures. The second reason was the participation of Yuri Pautov in a meeting of public figures with representatives of the administration of the Komi head to discuss the issue of merging ministries. Both attempts of public statements were qualified as 'political activities'.

The message on the website of the 'Silver taiga' says that any activity related to nature protection leads to contacts with the authorities: "...is it possible to implement large-scale environmental projects, sustainable development projects without contacting the state services, local self-government?! The question is rhetorical. And I still have to ask it!'. Pautov listed the merits of an NGO that has existed for almost 20 years:

'Thanks to the implementation of our projects, highly valued intact forest landscapes have been identified, valued and preserved, voluntary forest certification has been successfully developed, local initiatives aimed at sustainable development of rural areas, domestic tourism, ecological education and youth training are supported.'

The fact that the letter with the decision to add the organization to the register of foreign agents' was received by the leadership of the 'Silver Taiga' became known on May 5 on Ecologist's Day. After the rewarding ceremony, this situation was commented by the minister of industry of Komi Nikolai Gerasimov, who beforehand, according to him, gave 'the highest award' to Yuri Pautov.

'For me, this issue does not refer to a situation that I would like or could evaluate, it is beyond my scope,' the official admitted. 'I, knowing the business of this team for 20 years, would have designated them as breakthrough, pioneer and experimental-experienced for the whole of the Russian Federation. I've known them for so many years, I've seen them since the first days. In the republic, in their mutual relations, including with various departments, a system has formed – practically a vertical that can work and does work outside of political layers, it is quite a rigid connection. I have no doubt that they will not be able to interfere in this situation. Besides, almost 90% of the interaction of this team is carried out with the subjects of forest activities, and they have a completely constructive, well-considered, well-disputed relationship that I would attribute to Luzales, Mondi, and Severlespil. They grew into the region and learned how to work with enterprises. To be honest, this is the first time I heard from you [the information about the organization's announcement as a foreign agent], I've met them so many times over the past six months, I've never touched this topic.

On October 17, 2016, the head of the Komi Republic decided to merge the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic. On October 21, three public organizations – the Pechora rescue committee, the Komi Environmentalists and 'Izvatas' – appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Donskoi, Komi leader Sergei Gaplikov and the Komi State Council to review the decree.

On October 26, website of the 'Silver Taiga' published an appeal to the head of the republic, the ministries merge was called erroneous. According to the Director of the NGO Yuri Pautov, the merger contradicts some Russian legislative acts. At a meeting with representatives of the administration of the head of the Komi in November 2017, Pautov recalled that the decree on merger did not receive a legal assessment and contradicted the functions of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry.

Several rallies and pickets against the merger of ministries took place in Komi, the public waned to hold a referendum, but they were not allowed. In June 2017, the head of the Komi Republic, after addressing the leaders of the societies 'Izvatas' and 'Komi Voytir', announced that the Ministry of Natural Resources would be recreated.

Elena Solovyova, «7x7»


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