The Russian government is using anti-spying legislation to silence environmental campaigners, a leading watchdog warned on Tuesday. Human Rights Watch (HRW) found 29 environmental NGOs had been labelled “foreign agents” under a law brought in five years ago. …Efforts to defend forests, educate young people on environmental issues and give voice to victims of radiation accidents have suffered in the crackdown. “Government has put in place an administrative structure for de-legitimising environmental organisations and activists, effectively smearing them as anti-Russian spies,” Richard Pearshouse, associate environmental director at HRW, told Climate Home News. …In one example, Spok, a forest conservation charity based in the Karelia region of northwest Russia, was targeted over its public advocacy. The public prosecutor accused it of creating “doubt about the work of the Karelia judicial, law enforcement, and executive bodies in the eyes of the public”.