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Subject: The next dimension of Russia power
Nanheyangrouchuan    9/14/2008 1:14:24 PM
Russian Politicians Use Water Resources to Assert Influence MOSCOW, Russia (OOSKAnews) In the aftermath of the heated political debates between Rus- sia and the West over the conflict in South Ossetia, leader of Russian Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov made a state- ment on August 27 that “it is impossible to isolate Russia since our country has half of the planet’s water reserves, while 25 percent of the population of the world experiences water shortages,” Rosbalt quoted him as saying. Earlier, Zyuganov called for establishing union between Belarus, Ukraine and Russia as jointly the three countries will be able to more efficiently exploit their water and other natural resources and compete in the world market, Za Donbass website quoted the politician as saying. In February 2008, Speaker of the Russian State Duma Boris Gryzlov announced even a more ambitious project – to make water an export commodity for Russia, which would be the third most profitable source of export revenues after oil and gas sales. Gryzlov said that five to seven years later Russia would have water pipelines that would allow sale of bulk water abroad, RIA reported. “We can start selling water today already! Some people are ready to pay 4 dollars for a little bottle of water from Baikal Lake,” says Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, LDPR party website reported. “Baikal is a real well of the planet, storing up to 70 percent of clean drinking water of the Earth,” says Aleksandr Suturin, head of biochemistry laboratory of Limnologic Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The specialists of the institute said that the value of the lake’s wa- ter will be growing, Expert Magazine reported. Another scientist, Evgeny Kislov, from the Geological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote that water from Baikal can be sold through a water pipeline in China and transported by tankers for sale in Japan, South-Eastern Asia and the Middle East. Kislov says that the previous projects of selling bottled water from Baikal abroad have not succeeded, for two reasons: transportation of bottled water is too expensive, and it is uncommon to bottle water taken directly from rivers and lakes. In maintaining the quality of water in Baikal, Russia depends on Mongolia which has the biggest part of the Selenge River, the major Baikal tributary accumulating up to 70 percent of the lake’s water. According to the information of the Mongolian governmental agency on water affairs, today 104 coal, gold and copper mining companies operate in the Selenga Basin in Mongolia. In 2006, the Mongolian and Russian state water agencies signed an agreement to control the water quality and prevent pollution of the Selenga. Russia also became dependent on the water policy of Kazakhstan, according to Expert Magazine. Several big rivers, such as the Ural, the Irtysh and the Tobol flow from this Central Asian country into Russia, and Kazakhstan uses this fact to impose its water policy on Russia, said the adviser to the Minister of Natural Resources Nikolai Mikheev in an inter- view. According to Mikheev, Kazakhstan sold all hydropower stations in the Irtysh to U.S. companies, and they produce power and energy when it is better for them, discharging water in the Irtysh River in winter and not doing it in spring. “If Kazakhstan ‘takes away’ the Irtysh completely, this will be extremely bad for us. A big part of the Russian territory heavily depends on Kazakhstan water policy: the Kurgan, Omsk, Chely- abinsk regions,” said Mikheev. He also states that China is able to damage Russia’s water resourc- es by taking too much water from the Amur River. (Rivers consti- tute 3,500 kilometers of the border between Russia and China). Meanwhile, the Russian leadership has started promoting the project of diverting several West Siberian rivers into the states of Central Asia. This project was initiated by the authorities of the former Soviet Union in the 1960s, but it was finally abandoned in 1986 as the government concluded that the projected 2,320-kilometer-long canal would change the ice of the Arctic Ocean, deteriorate the quality of water in the Ob River and flood big areas of forests and agricultural lands, says Kirill Astapov, consultant of Russian Par- liament Upper Chamber, Federation Council. According to Astapov, since 2004 Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has been promoting this project, after stating in his article in Kom- somolskaya Pravda newspaper that only Russia is able to provide the Central Asian states with as much water as they need for devel- oping their economies. Luzhkov believes that the project will prevent humanitarian catas- trophe in Central Asia, and is confident that there is not much harm in diverting the Ob for irrigation purposes instead of letting the river discharge its waters into the Arctic Ocean.
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