The parliament of Chukotka, the easternmost region of Russia, has announced that the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has shut down operations in the region, the announcement was published on the parliament’s website, as noted by the 7x7 media outlet.
According to local parliamentarians, the WWF “threatens Russia’s national security and infringes upon interests of Chukotka residents.”
“In Chukotka itself, the WWF activities were putting the country in even greater peril. They are particularly interested in the naval zone along the Arctic coast, including the Wrangel Island and the Long Strait (separates the island from mainland Russia).
“Considering that this organisation is financed by enemies of Russia, it is easy to imagine what interests it represents,” speaker of the Chukotka parliament Valentina Rudchenko said.
She added that the region’s Governor Roman Kopin backed parliamentarians on this issue, the next step now is to terminate agreements on the municipality level.
The WWF worked in Chukotka for more than 25 years. The proposal to sever ties with the organisations was first voiced in March 2022.
Local activists and parliamentarians pointed to the WWF initiative to create a 12-mile buffer zone along Russia’s Arctic coast as the reason that prompted the move. Chukotka parliamentarians believed that it would affect Russia’s defence capabilities and economic security.
The WWF then said that the Chukotka parliament’s announcement “is bewildering” because there is not any such initiative and there cannot be one. The organisation suggested that the parliamentarians had confused the “12-mile Arctic coast zone project” with the Beringia National Park protective zone. “We are always open to dialogue and were surprised by deputies’ low awareness level,” the WWF stressed.