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Environmental activism in contemporary Russia exemplifies both the promise and the challenge facing grassroots politics in the post-Soviet period. In the late Soviet period, Russia's environmental movement was one of the country's most dynamic and effective forms of social activism, and it appeared well positioned to influence the direction and practice of post-Soviet politics. At present, however, activists scattered across Russia face severe obstacles to promoting green issues that range from wildlife protection and nuclear safety to environmental education.
Based on fifteen months of fieldwork in five regions of Russia, this book goes beyond familiar debates about the strength and weakness of civil society in Russia to identify the contradictory trends that determine the political influence of grassroots movements. In an organizational analysis of popular mobilization that addresses the continuing role of the Soviet legacy, the influence of transnational actors and the relevance of social mobilization theory to the Russian case, the author details what grassroots organizations in Russia actually do, how they use the limited economic and political opportunities that are available to them, and when they are able to influence policy and political practice.