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Putin decision to allow Lake Baikal paper mill to reopen angers environmentalists

Russian prime minister rules that mill can resume production 15 months after being closed down on ecological grounds

Source:  Copyright 2010, Guardian
Date:  January 20, 2010
Byline:  Luke Harding
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Environmentalists today rounded on Vladimir Putin after he amended legislation to allow the pollution of Russia's Lake Baikal, home to one-fifth of the world's supply of fresh water and unique plants and animals.

Putin ruled that a pulp and paper mill on the shores of the Siberian lake could resume production 15 months after being closed down on ecological grounds.

His decree appeared to be a favour to Oleg Deripaska, the plant's billionaire owner and the Russian prime minister's favourite oligarch.

For decades, environmental groups have attacked the Baikalsk pulp and paper mill, which bleaches paper with chlorine and discharges its waste water into the lake.

Putin allowed the factory to reopen after a visit to Baikal last summer, when he went to the bottom of the lake in a submersible mini-submarine.

Today, Greenpeace said it was deeply concerned by Putin's decree, adding that it had written to the president, Dmitry ...

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