The World Daily
Largest wildlife NGO in Belarus suffers shutdown amid conflict

White-tailed eagle in Belarus. Photo: Reuters 


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | MARCH 29th 2022


BirdLife Belarus (APB), one of the oldest, largest and most well-known Non-Profit Organisations in all of Belarus is undergoing a forced shutdown following accusations of “extremist activities” in regards to the catastrophic war in Ukraine.

Former members of the NGO were arrested under suspicion of using the organisation as a guise for the true purpose of attempting to destabilise the country’s political position and its government. After 24 years of work, the organisation is being forced to close down next month, during a period of time when the regional environments are most at risk.

“Belarus has pretty much been taken over by Putin,” said a source, remaining anonymous for safety purposes, to the Guardian. “The darkness that has engulfed the east of our region is catching up also with those protecting the environment.”

The source added: “Aside from the sheer injustice, this a massive blow to conservation at a global scale.”

Environmentalists in Belarus are expressing concerns that their phone conversations might be surveyed and that they are being monitored. Meanwhile, across the border in Ukraine, a conflict is under way, destroying plenty of both natural and man-made environments threatening not only human life, but wildlife as well.

Wildlife scientists in Ukraine working on the conservation of bats, as well as researching the guts of venomous serpents, have also recently been accused of working to create bioweaponry, among Putin’s claims that Ukrainian laboratories were producing various diseases for warfare.


The recent shutdown of APB in Belarus is only the most recent of its NGO closures, with at least 46 other human rights and civil society organisations having been shut down last year, since the beginning of the turmoil in Belarus following the allegedly fraudulent re-election of Alexander Lukashenko.

As it stands, APB had been one of the last NGOs still remaining in Belarus, but with its shutdown, all semblance of human rights efforts and environmentalism are disappearing from the country. Previously, Belarus was known to have a strong number of such organisations despite its size.

“Increasing paranoia from the government changed that,” said Adham Ashton-Butt from the British Trust for Ornithology, who has been working in the Belarus and Ukrainian parts of Polesia, who believes that aside from the anti-government sentiment, the Covid-19 pandemic may well have been a destabilising factor.

He added: “Any organisation that was thought to have the potential to be anti-government was under threat. In terms of APB, I think this was completely false. APB were not involved in this kind of politics, they were completely focused on nature conservation.”

Ashton-Butt commended the NGO for having achieved great things whilst working on minimum funds, including the rewetting of critical territories for bird species, and saving such species as the aquatic warbler from extinction.

“If conservation organisations cannot work, it leads to the potential erosion of protected areas,” he said. “You can see drainage of wetlands and commercial forestry going ahead because no one is there to argue against it. The forests and peatlands of Belarus are the most pristine in Europe. If they are drained or degraded or cut down they will be the last forests and wetlands of their kind in Europe.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2022 

Source: The Guardian, Amnesty International,