DISINFO: West-financed environmental NGOs in Belarus stage a big campaign against Rosatom and Russia
In Belarus, there is a large network of Western and West-financed NGOs which conduct subversive activities against Belarus-Russia relations. An example of far-reaching anti-Russian goals of environmental initiatives is a campaign against the construction of the Astravets nuclear power plant, which is built by Rosatom. Environmental activists argue that the NPP will discourage salmons spawning in its vicinity because of increased river temperature as a result of the nuclear reactor cooling. The contours of a big campaign against Rosatom and Russia are drawn on these assumptions.
This is a conspiracy consistent with a number of Belarus-related pro-Kremlin narratives about West's continuous attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations including through financing Belarusian opposition and NGOs. The claim that the public campaign against the Astravets NPP is built around the salmon spawning argument is misleading because negative impact for wildlife is just one among a number of other, often more serious arguments against the NPP construction including the station's potential technological vulnerabilities. These arguments were provided by environmentalists years ago (see 2010 assessment) and some of them continue to be voiced (see April 2019 publication) at present. The February 2019 draft decision of the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention acknowledged that Belarus had failed to comply with some Convention provisions and encouraged Belarus and Lithuania to continue bilateral expert consultations. It also expressed regret that Belarus failed to provide the Committee with the information regarding the justification of the selection of the Astravets site over the alternatives.