The president´s statement proves that protests of hundreds of
thousands of people both in Russia and other countries had their
effect. Despite the massive pressure by large extractive companies,
the government listened to the opinion of the public, scientists,
40 years ago an attempt to stop the dangerous project of
construction of the pulp and paper mill at the Baikal shore failed.
Fortunately, this time the government paid attention to the public
Demonstrations and protests to protect Lake Baikal were
organized in many Russian cities: Irkutsk, Severobaikalsk, Moscow,
Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg,
Rostov-on-Don, Angarsk and many others. This means that the civil
society still exists in our country.
The threat to the "sacred sea' united people from many Russian
regions. At the regional Irkutsk website www.babr.ru almost 27.000
people have so far voted against the oil pipeline. Hundreds of
people sent their photos of themselves with banners "Better Baikal
than oil', "Live Baikal' and others to the website
www.livebaikal.ru. Activists from Belarus, Germany, Ukraine send
their letters of support. Hundreds of artists and scientists,
teachers and politicians addressed the president with the appeal.
About 100.000 signatures were collected in different regions of the
country. Popular stars also addressed Vladimir Putin with the
request to protect Baikal. '
Unfortunately, all these facts were deliberately neglected by
the central mass media. Moreover, many of them had publications and
programmes where Baikal activists were described as agents of
western intelligence services and transnational corporations. Now
these very media support the necessity to remove the pipeline to
the north and greet the president´s decision.
According to Putin´s statement, construction of the pipeline
should be carried out from two ends: from East and from West so
that two sections are joined later. The Baikal section will be the
last to be constructed. Thus, according to Transneft, the company
will have time to further develop necessary documentation for this
section. However, an opportunity exists that the stage of further
development might be skipped. The company might just wait for the
public protests to settle down and then keep to the old project and
construct the pipeline in 800 meters from Baikal.
In order to avoid this scenario, Greenpeace and other
non-governmental organizations will follow closely the situation
and they are going to campaign for removal of the oil pipeline out
of the borders of the Baikal drainage area. ***
Other contacts: --Polina MalyshevaCommunication director, Greenpeace Russia+7(495)926-50-45