Speech by S.G. Levchenko in the State Duma to defend Lake Baikal and forests

Levchenko Sergei Georgievich

Member of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, First Secretary of the Irkutsk Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, former Governor of the Irkutsk Region.

Levchenko
Sergei
Georgievich

Member of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, First Secretary of the Irkutsk Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, former Governor of the Irkutsk Region.

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  • Ladies and gentlemen, today I would like to address you about a number of natural objects, especially since tomorrow at “Government Hour” the Minister of Natural Resources makes a reference here.

One may not know, but according to the proposals of our country in 1996, Lake Baikal was included in the World Natural Heritage List. Also, with our Russian initiative in 1999, the Western Caucasus was included in this list, I repeat, on our own initiative.

Today, quite large claims have accumulated from various international organizations, but, as they say, this is probably not the most important thing, the main thing is that we ourselves understand that we manage natural resources well.

So I want to say that today the behavior of all those who deal with natural resources, to put it mildly, does not tolerate any criticism at all.

I want to say that, since 2020, six terms have already been disrupted by the President of the Russian Federation. Work on dumping the sludge has not started and recently, three weeks ago, I addressed you, dear colleagues, to accept a protocol directive addressed to the Prime Minister, unfortunately, there is still enough evidence to further aggravate the situation.

Well, for example, there is one to dispose of the mud at the Baikal pulp and paper mill. Contractor, I do not want to advertise it. And for the past three years, it has canceled six deadlines for the president’s mandate to dump this mud. Can we afford this? Probably not.

Second. Prices during this period, compared to those set in the program for the protection of Lake Baikal, for some species have increased 10 times.

Third. To date, several negative things have happened. Contracts have been signed for the drainage of water from above, by sewage collectors.

Can you give examples, dear colleagues, if the budget has a 100% down payment and that is a billion rubles, for this project? They have not started it yet, but they have already transferred a billion rubles.

Moreover, it did not happen, this year, three weeks ago, after my speech here, they signed another contract for more than 120 million rubles and again they will be transferred to a completely unfinished project.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not think we should tolerate this. And the last time I spoke on a draft protocol directive, colleagues on the committee said – come to us.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have already come to you. In addition, you have already done research at the Ministry of Natural Resources and have not received a comprehensible answer.

So let’s go to the chamber or UNESCO will tell us in a month in Paris that you do not know how to manage natural resources.

Let’s not bury our heads in the sand, because that’s 25 percent of the world’s fresh water.

And to make these demands on behalf of the government, I think that is our sacred duty.

The second issue I have already raised is forests.

Remember what happened last year. The whole country was worried that huge areas of forests were burned.

I asked, let’s look at this situation in committee and in the Chamber. So what? To date, more fires have been burned in May than last year on that date. And we keep our heads in the sand all the time.

Colleagues, after all, these are our forests, these are forests that must be left for our children and grandchildren. Why do not we want to look into this case? This is difficult; Or are you afraid to ask questions that may come up on their own?

I appeal once again, dear colleagues, the fact is that the situation that has reached a dead end there says that these structures, these people, these contractors, continue to deceive us and the people of the whole country, especially them living on the shores of Lake Baikal, should not be considered to understand anything.

So, we signed a contract for recycling, a few months later they said it was impossible to fulfill, but they signed the contract and got the money. Nobody asked them. Nothing was done to break this contract, although this contract says that within 30 days, if the contractor does not fulfill, the customer is obliged to break this contract. Well, a stable organization, I repeat, I do not want to advertise them, but, colleagues, the situation or we are talking about much more than today, here we are talking about these contracts.

You will look at the problems of Russian objects in the example of heritage, in the example of Baikal. Here is a list of these allegations made against Russia, but unfortunately they are completely natural and correct. And we can deal with that, we have the power and the people and we have everything we need, but for some reason this situation has been slowing down in recent years.

Look, these are the maps that are next to Baikal, about 2 km away. If at least one dam is broken, that’s all, Category 1 and 2 waste will be dumped in Baikal. Can we let this happen to you? No. But the money is paid and nothing has been done for several years.

I have already said that, there is an instruction from the President of the Russian Federation. Even the bodies that control – the President’s Control Department, the environmental bloc in government – are forced to formally note that nothing is being done. Let’s see this situation in the chamber, because we will not forgive ourselves later.

Here we are threatened that within a month our objects will be included not in the list of world natural heritage, but under threat, then it will be much more difficult to return. You all understand very well that if you have already passed the Rubicon, then you will have to prove for years, perhaps neither for us, nor for you and me, that we know how to manage natural objects.

And the forest, the forest. Well, I will say that while I was working as the governor of the Irkutsk region, in 2018 we reduced illegal logging by half and after the next year by another 20%. This experience, which we carried out for the cutting of forests at the level of the Federal Forest Service, the Ministry of Natural Resources and even the government, was recommended to all, to all subjects of the Russian Federation. If you ask, has anyone made any progress on an issue related to deforestation, the answer, unfortunately, is no, although illegal logging and fires are very relevant things. And it is obvious that today we are afraid to come to this issue of forests, we are afraid to approach the Forest Code to correct it, the situation continues to continue this illegal logging and this burning.

Yesterday I thought that last year’s experience would lead to some result. No. I repeat that this year for the month of May more burned than last year on this date. Can we reconcile? The firefighting season has begun. To date, the areas are not equipped with the necessary equipment. This winter, when everyone had to work, roll up their sleeves, almost nothing was done, except for projects and various designs and here is the result.

This is the chip I have already talked about. Look, it means that with the same logging volumes, twice, and then another 20 percent in two years, which means that illegal logging has decreased. One, one result – the number of official logging has become the same and budget revenues have tripled.

These billions of rubles were left in the pockets of those people who cut them illegally.

Ladies and gentlemen, I call on you once again to save the forests and Lake Baikal. Thanks.

(Applause.)

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