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Putin Orders Creation Of National Waste-Collection System In Wake Of Landfill Protests

Protesters who demonstrated against a leaky landfill near Volokolamsk, Russia, surprised authorities with the strength of their demonstrations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the creation of a national system of municipal waste disposal, a move the follows unusually strident protests over a leaky Moscow region landfill.

The order signed by Putin, and published on the government register on January 14, calls for establishing a "Russian Ecological Operator" that will serve as a national overseeing agency to coordinate waste disposal companies nationwide.

The order gives few details except to say the agency should be set up before the end of 2019.

However, it follows a series of angry protests staged in early 2018 over poorly managed landfills and household waste disposal. The largest, and more frequent, protests occurred in the Moscow regional town of Volokolamsk.

Residents there demonstrated against a nearby landfill after dozens of children were rushed to hospitals with symptoms of gas poisoning. Residents blamed gases leaking from the landfill.

At one point, protesters blocked a highway to keep trash trucks from traveling to the landfill to dump household trash and garbage.

The protests drew wide attention across Russia, where similar political demonstrations have been under increasing pressure from the Kremlin, concerned about domestic unrest.

The new agency is slated to be part of the Natural Resources Ministry, whose minister, Dmitry Kobylkin, was quoted by the newspaper RBK as saying that the reforms will help weed out inefficient waste disposal companies across the country.

"In the near future, the strongest will survive, the weaker will fall, or they will have to sell their business. And we will get the best municipal solid waste businesses," he said.

With reporting by RBK
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