At the end of the 1990s, it had become possible to talk about a system of environmental protection structures, ways of their interaction, and technologies that promoted cooperation. However, the variety of socio-economic development models for different Russian regions resulted in a variety of such systems.
Due to the severity of ecological problems, the variety in regional socio-ecological development, and the development of decentralization processes, the State is expected to retain a leading position in the formation of environmental protection legislation consistent for the entire country. Also, it takes on monitoring functions. However, the levers of economic management and protection of nature belong to regional actors.
Thus, civil society initiatives of the population about environmental quality remain a stimulant of policy formation and realization.
The oldest environmental protection public organization is the Russian Environmental Protection Organization (REPO), which was founded in Soviet times. It originally was a semi-official structure that had some environmental protection functions of today’s State Ecological Committee while legally remaining a public organization.
During the 1960s, Nature Protection Teams (NPT) were formed by university students and teachers. These teams were engaged mainly in monitoring activities. They struggled with poaching (fishing, hunting, cutting trees for the New Year, collection and sale of wild spring flowers). NPTs helped maintain nature preserves. The main forms of interaction of NPTs with the State were protest letters and collection of signatures, with appeals to the State authority for help in solving ecological problems.
Thus, public ecological organizations acquired extensive experience in self-organizing and self-management and skills in the solution of ecological problems using only their own resources and interacting with State authorities. They were ready to prepare various documents (including ones for the establishment of NGOs), to develop ecological programs, and to participate in socio-political events. Therefore, at the end of the 1980s they led the creation of local organizations, based on the initiative of the public, which have expanded all over the country. NGOs were established in each large city and in the majority of small towns. The NPT movement became a part of the overall Russian environmental movement.
At this time NGO activities were primarily of a protest character. As a result, a number of ecologically dangerous projects were stopped: the reversal of the north-flowing rivers to the south, the increase of the Cheboksary water level,