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Russian Protesters Demand End To Construction On Lake Baikal

IRKUTSK, Russia -- Dozens of protesters have held a rally in eastern Russia to demand a halt to deforestation by a local construction company building houses near Lake Baikal, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The protesters, from the town of Melnichnaya Pad in the Irkutsk region gathered on October 11 and held signs in the regional capital Irkutsk that read "Authorities, Do Not Spit In The Well Your Children Will Drink From," "United Russia, Why Is The Right To Make Money More Important Than The Right To Pure Water and Life?" and "Irkutsk's Water Supply Is In Danger!"

The local environment organizations Baikal Ecological Wave and People's Control supported the demonstrators.

The protesters say a construction company is clearing the forest near Melnichnaya Pad to build cottages and has barred access to the shore of Lake Baikal.

They say construction workers even shot at local fishermen's boats to prevent them from approaching the construction site, which is surrounded by a high fence.

Picket organizer Yulia Karelchenko told RFE/RL that they decided to organize the protest after their appeals to local authorities and representatives of the ruling United Russia party went unheeded.

The protesters say the deforestation could lead to the contamination of the local Yershov Reservoir, which provides drinking water for Melnichnaya Pad, the town of Shelekhov, and the oblast capital Irkutsk.

Read more in Russian here