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Russian Environmentalists Rally For Endangered Forests, Lake Baikal

A woman holds a poster reading "Putin, give us a clean Baikal back" at a demonstration in Moscow in March.
IRKUTSK, Russia -- Environmentalists in the southeastern Russian city of Irkutsk plan to hold a demonstration on November 6 to support efforts to preserve the Khimki Forest near Moscow, the Utrish Forest on Russia's Black Sea coast, and Lake Baikal, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The gathering is being organized by the environmental organization Baikal Ecological Wave and the Irkutsk-based Baikal Movement.

Igor Ogorodnikov, an organizer of the rally, told RFE/RL that Irkutsk city officials had rejected the groups' application to hold a meeting and march in the city center.

The authorities proposed holding it on the banks of the Angara River instead. But Ogorodnikov said the riverbank was not an appropriate venue because it is very cold.

Ogorodnikov's colleague, Maksim Vorontsov, said that the organizers wanted participants' impressions and memories of the event to be positive in order to reinforce their commitment to protect Russia's environment.

The organizers of the rally plan to adopt two resolutions: one addressed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and the second addressed to Irkutsk Oblast Governor Dmitry Mezentsev and Irkutsk Mayor Viktor Kondrashov.

The resolutions will call on federal and regional leaders to draft plans to shut down the Baikal paper mill, cancel plans to build recreational facilities in the Utrish state park on the Black Sea coast, and declare an end to construction of the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway through the Khimki Forest.