EDITORIAL: Russia’s Toxic Kremlin


Russia’s Toxic Kremlin

We were awash last week in the toxic sludge that is the Moscow Kremlin’s effluent of dictatorship.

We looked left, and we saw the Kremlin’s insidious effort to build on a protected nature reserve in Sochi a palace for its new royalty, the KGB.

We looked right, and we saw the Kremlin’s malignant stormtroopers descending on the valiant environmental activists who dare to challenge the efforts of a dastardly Kremlin-friendly oligarch to pour filth in to Russia’s most valuable environmental jewel, Lake Baikal.

We looked right again, and we saw the Kremlin’s apes at work again, this time tossing people out onto the street and razing their homes in direct contravention of written promises not to do so, driving the desperate citizens to offer to defect to the USA and Germany.

All the while, the Kremlin’s message was quite clear, the same one it sent out in Tsarist and in Soviet times:  It is the Kremlin, not the people of Russia, who owns the nation and its resources. Only the Kremlin will decide what happens to them, regardless of what the people may or may not want, may or may not need.

Little wonder, then, that the Putin Kremlin sees nothing wrong with squandering the nation’s resources on waging cold war against the West rather than addressing Russia’s social problems, problems that have resulted in a massive demographic crisis.

And if the people of Russia will not lift a finger to demand better, then what they get it what they deserve.

8 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia’s Toxic Kremlin

  1. Russian police raid Lake Baikal ecology group

    Russian police have raided the offices of an environmental group after it criticised a plan to reopen a paper mill next to Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    Several computers were confiscated by police, who said they were checking the alleged use of unlicensed software.

    A member of the Baikal Environmental Wave group said the raid was linked to its efforts to keep the mill closed.

    Last week Russian PM Vladimir Putin decreed that the mill could reopen. It was shut in 2008 amid pollution fears.

    The lake, nicknamed “the Pearl of Siberia”, is the world’s largest body of fresh water and home to many unique species.

    The Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill is the biggest employer in Baikalsk, a town of 17,000. The mill is owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

    Environmentalists have fought for years to keep the mill shut, arguing that it threatens the lake’s fragile ecosystem.

    Mill managers insist they can operate the plant without polluting the lake.


  2. And a very good look at 2009 and the opression, corruption, and destruction of freedoms in Russia can be found here:


    • Some highlights:

      • January 28: Russian Teacher Fired For Protesting
      • March 11: Russian Voters Defrauded With Disappearing Ink
      • April 27: Sochi Election Results Called Into Question
      • October 11: Rampant Fraud Plagues Regional Elections
      • November 18: Internal Memo Indicts Police of Illegal Detentions
      • December 2: University Expels Student Opposition Activist

      Violent Repression

      • March 6: Political Blogger Involuntarily Psychiatrically Confined
      • March 31: Rights Leader Lev Ponomarev Hospitalized After Beating
      • May 28: Human Rights Group “Justice” Raided
      • August 5: Nashi to Create Armed Teen Militias
      • September 9: Journalist Beaten For Report on Dam Disaster
      • October 31: Opposition Activist Tortured By Police


      • July 14: Corruption Hinders Redevelopment of Russia’s Crumbling Infrastructure
      • November 5: Fired Officer Details Massive Police Corruption
      • November 11: State Corporations Face 22 Criminal Charges
      • November 30: Moscow Mayor Wins Libel Suit After Being Called Corrupt
      • December 11: Murder of Ingush Opposition Leader Ruled ‘Accidental’


      • January 19: Stanislav Markelov
      • July 15: Natalia Estemirova
      • August 11: Zarema Sadulaeva and Umar Dzhabrailov
      • October 25: Maksharip Aushev
      • November 2: Shabtai von Kalmanovic
      • November 17: Sergei Magnitsky


  3. Not sure if they’re ‘highlights’ Andrew…

  4. With Baikal, I wouldn’t risk any chances. It is too important to be toyed with. It’s an enormous reservoir of fresh water, and thirsty northern China, home to hundreds of millions of people, is located to the south of it. Also, with the advancing of global warming, permafrost could melt and make huge parts of Siberia availible for agriculture and mining, which require even more water.

    Baikal could be for northern and eastern Asia what Tanganyika is to eastern Africa. The Africans already treat their greatest lake with respect, let’s see if the Asians can do the same.

  5. More on Russian criminal behaviour with regards to the environment.

    Sweden wants explanation on Baltic nuclear ‘dumping’
    By Damien McGuinness
    BBC News, Riga

    The Russian military allegedly dumped nuclear waste into the Baltic Sea in the early 1990s, according to a report on Swedish television.

    Radioactive material from a military base in Latvia is thought to have been thrown into Swedish waters.

    For many the biggest shock is that the Swedish government may have known at the time and done nothing about it.

    The partly enclosed Baltic Sea is known as one of the most polluted seas in the world.

    But now it seems it was also used as a dumping ground for Russian nuclear waste and chemical weapons.

    According to a report on Swedish television, Russian boats sailed out at night, to dump barrels of radioactive material, from a military base in Latvia, into Swedish waters.

    And even though the Swedish government at the time reportedly knew this, no action was taken to find the waste.

    The current government in Stockholm now wants the politicians, who were then in charge, to explain why they did nothing to find the barrels.

    The Baltic Sea is semi-enclosed, so it takes a long time to flush out toxins. This makes it particularly vulnerable to pollution.

    And after years of untreated waste from Russia’s cities and heavy industries, scientists say that the Baltic is in danger of becoming a dead sea.

    Next week high-ranking politicians from those countries bordering the Baltic, including Russia, are due to attend a summit in Helsinki to discuss how to save it.

    But if reports about Soviet nuclear waste being dumped prove true, then Russia will have even more accusations of pollution to answer.


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