VLADIVOSTOK. April 6. VOSTOK-MEDIA – On Monday, April 5, For Baikal, a coalition of Russian public organizations, has sent resolutions of their meetings, which were held throughout Russia in March, to the Government.
A spokesman for the Russian Environmental Journalists’ Association told Vostok-Media, demonstrations to protest against contamination of Lake Baikal were held on March 27 to March 29 in Barnaul, Irkutsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Moscow, Petrozavodsk, Saint-Petersburg, Ulan-Ude and Chelyabinsk.
Participants in the demonstrations were unanimous in that the issue of Lake Baikal should be addressed as soon as possible. They call for repealing of the Government decree that legalizes the operation of the mill, taking steps to prevent putting Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) in operation, and providing alternative pathway for social and economic development of Baikalsk. The resolutions of the meetings include a request to Chinese manufacturers to shun cellulose produced at the pulp mill.
“There’re serious doubts that the Government decree is well grounded and I think that the said decree presents a grave danger to the unique ecosystem of Baikal,” said Aleksandr Fyodorv, Chairman of Environmental Journalists’ Association.
It would cost a little to solve the issue in a constructive way but all that authorities say is they don’t have money. What is more, they are funding dozens of controversial and hazardous projects including the construction of health and fitness center in Bolshoy Utrish Nature Reserve, yet another state residence in specially protected area in Far Eastern Marine Biosphere Preserve, construction of the Central Ring Road in Moscow, which may destroy up to 10% of forests in Moscow region, and construction of the Moscow-Saint-Petersburg express highway. The cost of each of these projects is many times as much as the sum necessary to solve all social problems of Baikalsk.
The President and the Government are able and must begin to tackle the social and economic problems of Baikalsk and start using alternative and ecologically-justified types of business activity. At the same time the Government should launch the program on mitigation of consequences of operation of Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill.
The protesters demanded to stop using coercive practices against those environmentalists who fight for preservation of Baikal.