This article aims to identify a “Thaw” in Soviet environmental history. Focusing on the attempts from some actors, above all writers and scholars of the Academy of Sciences to promote an ambitious law at the all-Union level in the second half of the 1950s, it uses new evidences from the central Russian archives to show the existence of an offensive by activists and experts in this field, but also their failure to obtain the creation of a unified state committee of ministerial rank. If the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature (VOOP) was sidelined in this battle, the 1960 Law on Nature Protection was significant for its members. It cited the VOOP as the main organ of control in the environmental field, and created an opportunity for new “social organizations” to emerge in the country: the Brigades for Nature Protection (DOP), the first of which was created at Moscow State University.
See, for example, Repenser le Dégel: versions du socialisme, influences internationales et société soviétique (Paris: Éd. de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2006) and Polly Jones, ed., The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006).
Stephen Brain, “Stalin’s Environmentalism,”The Russian Review69, no.1 (2010): 93-118. Paradoxically on certain general issues, especially exploitation of the forest, Stalinism produced a series of conservationist laws, giving official framework and support from above for limited forest protection.
In1958, Gosplan had created such a commission with Nesmeianov at its head. In 1963, the recently transferred Gosplan Commission on nature protection was suppressed. See Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom, 258, 307-308.