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Sida's work in Russia

On February 24, Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine. We follow the developments closely and work intensively to adapt our work in the country. The safety of our partners is a top priority. Sida´s work in Russia focuses on democracy and human rights. No funds will go to state actors. Russia has been moving in an authoritarian direction for a long time, but in 2021 repression increased. The country is suffering from major environmental problems.

Sida's cooperation in Russia 2021

Total development assistance 70000000 SEK, Development cooperation 70000000 SEK.

Progress has been made

48 %

of the population believe that the greatest threat to societal development is the pollution of the environment, greater than terrorism.1 Engagement in environmental issues is increasing.

Public health has improved

The consumption of tobacco and alcohol have decreased, contributing to improved public health.

Protection for children has increased

Legislative amendments to strengthen the protection of children’s rights have improved the situation for children somewhat.

Challenges remain

Human rights are being violated

Respect for human rights is declining in Russia. For example, laws have been introduced that limit freedom of association and assembly. Police violence and torture remain a serious problem.

Widespread violence against women

Gender-based violence is widespread and many women are subjected to domestic violence. Each year, between 7,000 and 12,000 women die as a result of domestic violence and many of the perpetrators escape punishment.

Major contributor to the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea

Despite its relatively short Baltic coastline, Russia is one of the countries that discharges the most eutrophying nutrients into the Baltic Sea.

Development cooperation in Russia

Political rule in Russia has become increasingly authoritarian over the last 20 years. Despite many years of negative developments in the field of human rights in Russia, the deterioration in 2021 must be considered extraordinary. 2021 began with the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It ended with a Russian court closing Russia’s main human rights organization Memorial by ordering the liquidation of its two main branches, the International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Center. In between, there was a major attack on freedom of expression when the country’s leading investigative media was forced out of the country.

The protection and management of natural resources has long been a low priority in Russia. Although in many respects Russian legislation corresponds to EU standards, there are substantial flaws in compliance. Millions of Russians live in areas severely affected by emissions of hazardous industrial waste.

On February 24, Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine. We follow the developments closely and work intensively to adapt our work in the country.

Democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality

Swedish support for democratic forces in Russia is more important than ever. Our support is therefore not stopped, but we continue our work and are in close contact with partners to be able to adapt the support. No funds will go to state actor

Much of the support has gone to Russian civil society working on democracy, human rights, gender equality and the rule of law. The principles of the rule of law mean, among other things, that all people must be treated equally before the law and have an equal opportunity to take part in and influence decisions and processes.

According to international observers, no Russian presidential election held since 2000 has been free and democratic. Corruption is endemic, as is discrimination against minority groups. Russian society is characterised by traditional stereotypical gender norms. While Article 19 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation prescribes equal rights and freedoms for men and women, to some extent legislation continues to discriminate based on gender.

Homosexuality is not illegal, but intolerance occurs against LGBTQI people, which sometimes results in discrimination and in some cases acts of violence.

Sida supports a number of projects intended to improve this situation.


Russian women gain access to 365 new occupations

Russian women were previously banned from working as train drivers; through the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) Memorial, Sida has contributed to lifting the ban on women working as drivers and in a further 364 occupations. This work is focused on reducing discrimination by raising awareness of women’s right to work in all occupations.

ADC Memorial website

Working to increase press freedom

Freedom of expression remains limited and Russia is ranked 150th out 180 countries on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Sida´s support for press freedom is broad and long-term.

Forums against domestic violence

Domestic violence has increased during the pandemic. Sida supports forums for organisations working to prevent men’s violence against women.

Environment, climate change and sustainable energy

While Russia’s carbon dioxide emissions have plummeted since 1990, they remain the fourth largest globally after China, the United States and India.Large reserves of oil and gas decrease the motivation to switch to renewable energy. Air and aquatic pollution is a major problem exacerbated by poor waste management.

For many years, Sida has collaborated on environmental initiatives in Russia, including loans to refurbish municipal infrastructure in water and sewage treatment. These efforts have been successful and, among other things, have led to sharply reduced emissions of nutrients to the Baltic Sea.

After the outbreak of war in February 2022, Sida decided to put all environmental efforts in municipal infrastructure in Russia on ice. The two remaining funds for Russia with the Nordic environmental bank Nefco were terminated at the beginning of March 2022 and the remaining funds will be repaid to Sida.

Protecting the Baltic Sea environment

Sida is a contributor to the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), established pursuant to the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (the Helsinki Convention), the contracting parties to which include all of the countries around the Baltic Sea.

The aim of the commission is to protect the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, to preserve biological diversity and to promote the sustainable use of marine resources.

All environmental efforts in municipal infrastructure are put on ice after the outbreak of war in February 2022.

Sida has also contributed to the construction of a water treatment plant in Kaliningrad and the renovation of a sewage treatment plant close to St. Petersburg. Investments in improving wastewater treatment in Russia through the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) have reduced annual nitrogen emissions into the Baltic Sea by over 6,700 tonnes, equivalent to the untreated wastewater generated by 1.5 million people.

HELCOM website

Increased energy efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions

Sida collaborates with the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) to support a number of projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

The funds in Russia were terminated in early March 2022 and the remaining funds will be repaid to Sida.

Sida has previously contributed to the rebuilding of the municipal district heating company in Gattjina to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and an effort to reduce emissions of black soot in Ustyushna in Vologda. By firing with locally produced biofuel in a new type of boiler with filter, emissions of black soot are minimized. The projects were implemented within the framework of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) initiative.

NDEP webpage

Governance of Sida's development cooperation with Russia

The focus of the work is governed by the government’s strategy for Sweden’s support for democracy, human rights and the environment in Russia. In the strategy, SEK 324 million has been reserved for Sida to pay out to Russia. Disbursed 2020–2021: SEK 138 million. Remaining for 2022–2024: SEK 186 million – all of which will go to human rights, democracy or independent environmental organizations.

Funds allocated to Russo-Swedish cooperation in the fields of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and the environment are not considered to be aid but international cooperation.

Strategy for Sweden’s support for democracy, human rights and the environment in Russia 2020–2024 on the Swedish government web page

Updated: March 28, 2022