Single Strikes for the Future: Climate Activism in Moscow
María Elvira López ’21, Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Majors: Environmental Studies (Social Justice and Citizenship); International Relations
Fridays for Future (FFF) is a global youth movement started by Greta Thumberg in 2018 when she began to school strike, drawing attention to the climate emergency. Since then, the movement has been joined by young people around the world who demand that their governments take immediate action regarding climate change. This presentation will discuss the achievements and breakthroughs of the FFF movement in Moscow, where climate change is greatly overlooked and the right to protest is strictly limited. Using single strikes as their main protesting mechanism, FFF activists in Moscow have been able to convey their demands for a shift towards sustainable economic sources and create greater awareness regarding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
The harsh control and repression of freedom of speech that exists in Russia makes the work of these activists a unique and inspiring undertaking. In Moscow it is illegal for protests between two or more people to be held without the authorization of the city’s administration and for anyone under eighteen to participate in demonstrations. By using single pickets and social media, Moscow’s FFF activists have been able to get their messages across, despite these restrictions. The weekly presence of single strikers in Moscow’s Pushkin Square is setting an example against the indifference and conformity encouraged by such a system. Although the movement has come a long way, it has not yet achieved the government response it seeks, and it lacks significant visibility.
I was able to trace the development of this movement using participant observation, attending different strikes, and hearing the stories of activists Luba Samylova, Margarita Naumenko, Sofya Epifantseva, Daria Grishina, and the movement’s leader Arshak Makichyan. These experiences help illustrate the role and challenges of civil society in pressuring for environmental reforms in Russia.