Who Is the Boss in Russia?

Transneft Knows the Answer...

Feature story - 28 September, 2005
Transneft company submitted the technical and economical feasibility study of the route of the East Siberia – Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO). Once again oil industry workers cynically and directly demonstrated to the whole world who is the boss in Russia. The Kommersant newspaper quoted Serguey Grigoriev, vice-president of the company, as saying yesterday, the pipeline is still planned to be constructed 0.8-1 km from the Baikal shore. This is despite all protests…

Transneft’s office in Moscow

Does that mean that numerous statements of UNESCO, demands of Russian and foreign environmentalists, resolutions of the Prosecutor's office, court decisions and instructions of the state bodies for supervision are all for naught?

Are inspections, local work groups, a meeting of the head of Transneft Mr. Vainshtok and the Natural Resources Minister Trutnev is just a game?Then what's the value of rants about the constitutional state, supremacy of law, improving the image of Russia in the world?

Though it was evident from the very beginning that Transneft (which is a state enterprise), obtaining support of the top officials in the country, has its own way despite of the law, public opinion and the common sense, there was a hope that this time it would be different, as it should be. Alas…

Let's once again remember the milestones of another "big lie".

2003. The state environmental impact assessment committee does not endorse the project of the Angarsk-Nakhodka oil pipeline, because the pipeline crosses the drainage area of Lake Baikal and the World Natural Heritage site. The risk is too big and unacceptable. Alternatives should be developed.

Within several months Transneft works out a new project - farther from Baikal. In March 2004 the state assessment committee of the MNR approves the pipeline route passing 80 km away from the lake's shore.

However in less than two months the name of the project is changed to "Taishet-Perevoznaya" or "East Siberia - Pacific Ocean". Its final destination now is not the well-equipped port Nakhodka with good infrastructure, but unaffected by the industrial activity Perevoznaya Bay. It is located only 30 km from the Far East marine biosphere reserve.

Another state environmental impact assessment is conducted by the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (Rostekhnadzor). Its positive decision is soon contested in court of the city of Khabarovsk and suspended. It's noteworthy that Transneft fist successfully uses the public. "Public Ecology" and "Movement of Specific Steps" organization, without leaving Moscow, prepare positive decisions of public assessments. Other non-governmental organizations don't receive documents to be able to hold really independent assessment. Transneft simply refuses to provide the necessary documents, neglecting the law.

On December 31, 2004, prime minister Fradkov "issues" the resolution of the government, where he endorses the specified route (Taishet-Kazachinskoe-Skovorono-Perevoznaya). The head of the government is not confused with the fact that the assessment was held with numerous violations of the law.

Then the situation gets worse: illegal shifting the route to the Baikal shore; illegal logging with violations of felling standards; violations during public hearings; repeated using the "tame" public, which gives positive decisions of public assessments before the end of the public hearings.

And now there are new statements of Mr. Grigoriev, vice-president of Transneft…