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The environmental disaster in the Arctic. Moscow’s neo-colonial exploitation of Russia’s regions. OSW Commentary 2020-08-07.

Rogoza, Jadwiga and Wiśniewska, Iwona (2020) The environmental disaster in the Arctic. Moscow’s neo-colonial exploitation of Russia’s regions. OSW Commentary 2020-08-07. UNSPECIFIED.

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    The end of May 2020 saw the biggest known environmental disaster in the Russian Arctic. The thermal power plant in Norilsk in Krasnoyarsk Krai, controlled by the Norilsk Nickel company, contaminated soil and water with more than 21,000 tons of diesel fuel. A month later, the company dumped another portion of toxic substances directly onto the tundra. Although the company has been polluting the region for years, it has thus far remained unpunished. This case illustrates the costs of Russia’s status as a major raw commodity exporter and of Moscow’s policy of exploitation of remote regions, which resembles colonial practices. In these regions, natural resources are being mined in a manner close to over-exploitation, without the necessary protection measures, and the health of the local population is being put at serious risk. Moscow accumulates the income earned from selling the mined raw materials and at the same time it ignores the interests of local residents – all matters concerning the regions are decided in the capital, frequently behind the scenes, and the regional governments are informed of the decisions afterwards. The Kremlin allows mining companies to operate freely in the regions (including with regards to environmental issues) in exchange for contributions to the state budget and profits for members of the elite associated with President Putin. This practice makes residents of distant regions feel abused and is a source of resentment towards the federal government in Moscow, which is particularly acute in Siberia and the Russian Far East and results in occasional protests. Meanwhile, a genuine fight against environmental pollution requires major and long-term outlays on modernisation. However, Russia’s financial problems and its political and economic model as a whole, particularly the lack of ownership rights protection, constitute major barriers to these investments.

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    Item Type: Other
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > energy policy (Including international arena)
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > environmental policy (including international arena)
    Countries > Russia
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Daniel Pennell
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2021 10:31
    Number of Pages: 6
    Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 10:31

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