Toxic Russia, Destroying itself and the World

The United Nations and the IOC are both condemning Russia’s appalling environmental butchery of the Sochi region as it is raped in preparation for the Olympics.  Paul Goble reports:

Thursday, Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak appealed to ecologists “not to block” the construction of facilities for the Sochi Olympic Games now planned for 2014, the latest indication of the way in which Moscow has found itself under pressure from environmental activists.

Kozak told a session of the inter-agency commission preparing for the games that UN experts had not found “major ecological problems” in their study of the environment around Sochi and that Russian ecologists should accept their conclusions rather than take steps to prevent construction from going forward

As Kommersant reported, environmentalists were not impressed by Kozak’s remarks. Igor Chestin, director of the World Wildlife Fund of Russia, said that he “does not understand how Russian ecologists can ‘block’ the Olympic project; we simply don’t have such power.”

But the situation in Sochi is a matter of deep concern, he continued, because “the ecology of the region has already suffered and now one can talk only about minimizing harm,” given that the government’s current approach, if it continues unchanged “will lead to a catastrophe with human victims.”

And as for the report by UN ecologists, Chestin said, neither he nor other Russian environmentalists have had the chance to read it, although many of them did meet with the UN specialists when they visited Sochi earlier this year. But as far as their report is concerned, it will become publically available only “next week.”  (Moscow faces other challenges in Sochi. Today, some workers on Olympic objects declared a strike because the Russian companies have not paid them for three months,and Circassian activists continue their campaign to shift the games.)

But Moscow faces several other environmental challenges, two of which are likely to have a serious impact in the Russian capital. On the one hand, almost all environmental movements in Russia have united to block the reopening of the paper plant on Lake Baikal.  This movement, which 40 years ago served as a major trigger for the rise of Russian nationalism and Siberian regionalism and which forced the Soviet regime to agree to schedule the plant’s closure, appears to be gathering momentum, with some of its members even calling for environmentalists to press harder.

Given that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has tried to have it both ways on this question, earlier posing as a defender of the purity of the waters of Lake Baikal and more recently issuing a decree allowing the paper plant to reopen, such pressure could resonate in Moscow politics.

Meanwhile, in the Russian North, Moscow faces another problem. Not only are conditions in some villages deteriorating rapidly, a trend that is attracting the attention of Russian and foreign media, but Scandinavian governments are becoming angry.  Not only does pollution from Russian sites threaten their countries, but governments in this region are furious: they gave Moscow money to clean up some the worst locations and little or nothing has been done.

Because environmental causes, unlike ethnic ones, translate well from one group to another and from one country to another, environmental activists in Russia are likely to gain support not only from large parts of the population of their country but from ecological movements and some governments abroad.

That in turn means that Russia’s environmental movement is likely to grow, adding its voice to and being joined by other opposition groups, in ways that the current Russian powers that be may find it increasingly difficult to dismiss with suggestions that those concerned about protecting the environment should defer to Moscow’s public relations campaigns.

11 responses to “Toxic Russia, Destroying itself and the World

  1. I Blame Gorbachov and Yeltsin,again,for actively and intentionally degenerating Russian society up to the point that we have Putin and these aberrations:

  2. Russia criticized by UN over Olympics construction

    As constructors set about building all the required facilities from scratch, environmental activists say the ecosystems have already suffered irreversible damage, and bird and bear habitats have been destroyed. Ecologists say the pristine rivers and forests of the North Caucasus mountain range are home to thousands of protected plant and animal species.

  3. That shows just how degenerated and violently ignorant Russia’s ruling class is.
    It’s just sad…

  4. Dino,
    Let’s have a reality check – the total degeneration of the Russian society is not caused by Gorbachov or Yeltsin; it is caused by one thing and one thing only – the desintegration of the Russian empire; this process is unstopable and irreversible – you Russians can attack any neighbor, create any number of so called frozen conflicts, you can have as many victory parades as you wish – nothing will save you; that’s why the whole Russia is in a total and constant alcoholic stupor, but you will have to face reality sooner rather than later and it is not a pretty picture.

    • I’m not Russian.
      The degeneration of Russian society was caused by Yeltslin:simple facts prove that:check average income,number of violence-related deaths,crime statistics,number of abandoned children…
      Soviet society was unmatched by temporary American,and is a far cry from society of today’s Russia…

      • @Dino,

        LaRussophobe should ban you for not documenting things and just ranting on, about communism as if some kind of mantra.

        Dino, you are getting to be a pain in the ass.
        Why then don’t you post, these “facts prove”…

        You tell us to check the facts. “facts prove Soviet society was unmatched..”
        You are just another Crazy, wasting our time and polluting this fine blog.

        Dino, you are tiring me out. I think I will take a day off from this blog.

        • Proofs,facts,arguments…
          Nothing else matters…
          Read,citizen,and learn…
          Maybe one day you will take the veil of propaganda inoculated in you from your birth…

  5. The Obama depression is hammering everybody, but most of all the crooks running the Russian government.

    The misfortunes for Putin were made much worse by the shale gas discovery. Also GTO (gas to oil) technology means that the vast quantities of natural gas will eventually reduce the price of oil.

    Already the Russian people are sick of Putin and soon will be in open revolt. Whether they have the brains to demand freedom is the question.

    • Russian people were sick of Yeltsin too,yet there was no revolt.
      Remember the Russian parliamentary crisis of 1993.
      OMON and other Putin’s mercenaries are more than willing to shoot/beat/imprison Russian citizens…

  6. Yeltsin had a tough time, but his strongest feature is what he did not do. He did not kill Journalists. He did not jail businessmen and then steal their business. He did not create a secret police.

    He tried to make a go of democracy. Who wouldn’t drink to much when trying to do the impossible.

    Yeltsin was too good for the Russians.

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