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Putin Named Lake Baikal's Biggest Enemy In Greenpeace Poll

Greenpeace activists dive into Lake Baikal to protest a polluting paper mill

Greenpeace activists dive into Lake Baikal to protest a polluting paper mill

* Correction appended

The Greenpeace branch in Russia has named Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the winner of a poll titled "Lake Baikal's Enemy," RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Greenpeace officials in the southeastern city of Irkutsk told RFE/RL on September 9 that Putin got 52 percent of the votes in the poll to win. Putin was nominated due to the fact that he signed a decree in January 2010 that allowed a polluting pulp and paper mill on the banks of Lake Baikal to resume its operations.
Greenpeace activists have been fighting with federal and local authorities to close the mill, saying that it is contaminating the lake with its waste.
The Russian federal government placed second in the poll with 10 percent of the votes while third place went to Russia's Natural Resources Ministry, with 8 percent.
Greenpeace said the winners will also be given special badges called the "Golden Tick."
This week Greenpeace divers put a plaque with the winners' names engraved on it atop a pipe from the mill that pumps waste into Lake Baikal.
Greenpeace's Russian office chairman, Yevgeny Usov, told RFE/RL that the plaque can be removed only with special keys, adding that they are ready to give those keys to Putin if he decides to close the paper mill.
Lake Baikal is the world's oldest and deepest freshwater lake and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

* CORRECTION: The initial version of this article incorrectly stated that the plant is controlled by LPK Continental Management, part of an industrial group headed by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In fact, Continental Management, a subsidiary of Deripaska’s Basic Element holding company, was the majority owner of BPPM until March 2010, when it sold its stake to Nikolai Makarov's Continental Invest. RFE/RL regrets the error.

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