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Russian Scholars Urge Putin Not To Reopen Lake Baikal Mill

A woman holds a poster reading "Putin Give Us A Clean Baikal Back" during a demonstration in Moscow on March 28.
MOSCOW -- Scholars in the Siberian department of Russia's Academy of Sciences in Moscow have urged Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not to resume operations at the controversial paper mill on the shore of Lake Baikal, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

In a letter to Putin, the academics wrote that by resuming the industrial facility's operations, Russia is breaking international obligations it has made to protect Lake Baikal.

The scholars say that "the negative impact of the paper mill's operations on the lake's flora and fauna has been proven."

The mill's operations were suspended two years ago due to environmental concerns caused by the pollution it produces.

In January, the Russian government decided to reopen the mill. The facility provides jobs for 14,000 people in an around the town of Baikalsk.

Also called the "Pearl of Siberia," Lake Baikal is the world's deepest and most voluminous fresh-water lake and holds roughly 20 percent of the Earth's surface fresh water. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.