Yet another victory has come Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's way, and this time he deserved it. An Internet poll gave him a resounding victory in the Greenpeace-organised Enemy of Baikal competition; the Golden Tick award went to the prime minister for winning the competition. To mark Putin’s triumph, scuba divers planted a commemorative sign on the bottom of Lake Baikal right next to the Baikal Pulp and Paper Plant’s (BPPP) waste-discharge pipe. Greenpeace says that the banner, listing off the competition’s three finalists, was put up “with the hope that the prime minister, having himself already dove to the bottom of Baikal, would halt the plant’s operations and dive down to remove the banner”.
Putin took first place with 52% of the vote. The prime minister is notorious for having signed Decree No. 1 in January 2010, which permitted the Plant to resume polluting Lake Baikal. In second with 10% of the vote came the Russian government, which prepared the decree for Putin, while the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Natural Resources, which were suppose to stop the illegal actions but didn’t, came in third.
Greenpeace promised to give all the finalists awards: honorary certificates, photoalbums of Lake Baikal in all its beauty, and the Golden Tick prize, picturing a yellowish gold Ixodoidea tick against the black background. Roman Vazhenkov, head of Greenpeace’s Baikal programme, said, “We didn’t just randomly choose a tick for this award. There are only two ways you get rid of this parasite: cut it out or wait until it sucks up as much blood as it can and falls off.”
The Enemy of Baikal competition began on 13 January 2011, onthe anniversary of Putin’s signing the decree that allowed for the BPPP to resume dumping waste into the lake, sacred for millions of people. Ten candidates (both individuals and organisations) that are destroying Lake Baikal were introduced during a public vote in mid-August, among them: Alfa-Bank (BPPP’s chief creditor); the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Andrei Dementyev (for preparing decree No. 1 and for trying to permit BPPP to make an enormous increase in the amount of hazardous waste and an astronomical increase in the amount of organochlorine contaminents discharged into the lake; former BPPP owner Oleg Deripaska (for, to be short, brought things to a desperate situation, and then washed his hands off); Head of the Board of Directors at Continentalinvest Nikolai Makarov (for, while controlling 49.9% of BPPP, not taking any real measures to stop polluting Lake Baikal); the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Deputy Minister Semyon Levi in particular, and the Ministry of Justice (for approving the draft of decree No. 1 despite the fact that it obviously violates the law On protecting Lake Baikal, On protecting the environment, and being in violation of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage); The Russian government (for providing biased materials that served as the basis for Putin’s passing the decree); Vladimir Putin (no explanation needed here); Cyprus (the explanation here is that the country is home to GALIBI LIMITED, now the owner of 49.9% of BPPP according to the list of affiliated entities revealed on 30 June 2011); Vice Premier Igor Sechin (for trying to allow BPPP to make an enormous increase in the amount of hazardous waste and an astronomical increase in the amount of organochlorine contaminents discharged into the lake, for meddling in the relations bet ween certain commercial entities, one of which is now defunct); Vice Premier Igor Shuvalov (for not carrying out his superior’s orders “to have the BPPP resume production with a closed-off water cycle” and for preparing decree No. 1, which allowed the plant to operate on an open-water cycle).
Two candidates were added during the voting: the BPPP Board of Directors (for doing nothing for years to stop polluting Lake Baikal) and the self-deprecating “we, the Russian people”; 6% of the participants voted for the latter.
To recap, the Irkutsk Information Centre Babr.ru held its own vote, before Greenpeace’s, on whom to declare Siberia’s enemy number one; 41,143 people voted. Putin was the winner with 41.5% of the vote, followed by Deripaska with 13.8% and the United Russian Party with 13.6%.
Greenpeace believes that Putin secured himself the Golden Tick by announcing at a United Russia conference in Cherepovets on 5 September that the BPPP cannot be shutdown because what it manufactures is critical for the country’s military-industrial complex, missile production in particular. United Russia’s website quotes Putin as saying, “We need to stand up for clean manufacturing to protect the environment; however, we cannot agree with certain “hot heads” who suggest procuring cellulose from abroad. We need to understand that they will not sell us a thing for our missile industry.”
Putin, therefore, is substantiating his decision to relaunch the BPPP without even citing anymore that the Irkutsk waste-water treatment plant dumped 106 thousand tonnes into the lake and the BPPP only 27.4 thousand tonnes. He talked about this at a meeting of the Russian Geographic Society, ignoring that in reality the BPPP dumps thousands of tonnes more of waste, and most importantly, that the Angara River, which takes in waste water from Irkutsk, flows out of Lake Baikal, not into it.
It looks now as if it was brought to Putin’s attention as to from where the Angara outflows and inflows. He has also stopped alluding to the prospects for a social boom in the city of Baikalsk and no longer utters those magical words “local-economic mainstay” and “jobs”. He was probably told just as well just how ridiculous this looks. Why in the world would the region’s residents want to sacrifice their health to pay for Deripaska’s profits, and now the profits of his logging-business partner to whom he sold his shares in the BPPP?
One argument remains, but what an argument! Our oh-so sacred missiles. Incidently, it could be that the cellulose, which we dirty Lake Baikal with to produce them, grounds our Bulava missiles or throws them off course. No kidding. What point is there in having a missile shield whose production destroys what we are allegedly suppose to be protecting? What enemy is capable of hurting us more than ourselves?
In short, it was not the Russian government that halted the BPPP in the autumn of 2008, but rather the BPPP itself. Were the missiles not part of the picture until today? Is the Irkutsk commercial court, which started the BPPP’s bankruptcy procedures, Russia’s enemy? If the BPPP is so important, then why has it been let to drag on a wretched existence and has already know been bankrupt for a long time?
Specialists long ago commented on the arguments that missile building is drastically needed to save the BPPP. Just two years ago, an engineer working in strategic-missile production told me bluntly that such arguments are “complete malarkey”. Missile construction uses bleached cellulose that the BPPP uses in its operations, but the plant’s management said that it needed a government decree to resume the production of non-bleached cellulose, while manufacturing bleached cellulose had not been approved by the authorities. And we have accumulated so much of this cellulose, among other things, that our military-industrial complex needs even more than decades to process it.
Most important of all, bleached-cellulose production is prohibited, and Putin, not by a long shot, did not and could not overturn the ban imposed on the BPPP’s using chloride to bleach its cellulose. What cellulose and what missiles do we hear the Prime Minister talking about now?
If we were to believe, just for a minute, that Putin is being sincere and competent, then we can only imagine that he and his buddies have their own unbeknown missile production popping out special missiles that they will ride to their home planet once they have poisened and depleted everything on Earth.