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Sida's work in Russia

Political development in Russia is moving in an increasingly authoritarian direction. For this reason, Sida’s cooperation with the country is focused on supporting democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality. The environment and climate are other important areas in which we work.

Sida's cooperation with Russia 2020

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, severely restricting freedom of expression. Those who stand up for their own rights and the rights of others are impeded and many are subjected to threats and violence.

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.

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

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.  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. Through various collaborations, Sida provides support and training to lawyers specialising in media law and legal advice to persecuted journalists, including help with taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. Over 9,000 legal consultations were held during 2020. Some accused journalists have Swedish support to thank for their acquittal. The public is also informed about issues related to freedom of the press.

Contributing to providing independent reporting in the North Caucasus

Thanks to Sida’s support of the news site Caucasian Knot, citizens have increased access to independent reporting in the conflict-torn region North Caucasus. Caucasian Knot has published thousands of articles dealing with issues such as ethnic conflicts, human rights violations, kidnappings, murders, the environment and social problems. A survey conducted by the Levada Analytical Center in 2020 found that Caucasian Knot is viewed as an independent news source and in many cases as the only source of information. Many of the articles published on the site have resulted in investigations and redress.

Caucasian Knots website

Increasing understanding of people with disabilities

Citizens is general have limited opportunity to exert political influence. Sida’s support for the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) has increased international contacts at local level between Russia and Sweden.

One example is provided by the project No Limits in Life, in which the Russian municipalities Petrozavodsk, Kostomuksha and Olonets exchange experiences with the Swedish municipalities Lycksele, Skellefteå and Umeå. This has resulted in a greater understanding of the situation of people with disabilities and their need for social services.

ICLD website

Forums against domestic violence

Domestic violence has increased during the pandemic. Sida supports forums for organisations working to prevent men’s violence against women. This work has resulted in an action plan for the entire chain of violence: before, during and after. The success of this method has garnered international attention.

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. Sida supports a number of projects aimed at improving Russia’s environment.

 

Protecting the Baltic Sea environment

The industrial and agricultural sectors and communities emit large quantities of pollutants that are a major contributor to the eutrophication of 97 percent of the Baltic Sea. 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. 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 municipal district heating system in Gatchina is being renovated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Another project will reduce black carbon emissions from soot in Ustyushna in Vologda oblast by burning locally produced biofuel in a new type of boiler. Filters will also be installed to almost completely eliminate black carbon emissions from soot. The project is being conducted within the framework of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP).

NDEP:s webpage

Supporting citizens in protecting natural resources

Civil society plays a vital role in giving citizens the opportunity to contribute to managing natural resources to achieve environmental goals. At the same time, environmental human rights defenders live under threat. Sida reinforces environmental organisations in Russia and Belarus via Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB). Russian and Swedish partners have launched an initiative to link social responsibility to environmental responsibility and climate change. The partners have developed methods for engaging more men in taking social responsibility and responsibility for the environment and climate.

CCB:s webpage

Governance of Sida's development cooperation with Russia

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: 2 July 2021