"Together for a clean Baikal!" - It was under this slogan that a rally was held on the 21st May in Irkutsk. Around a thousand people gathered on Square Kirova to express their concern about the environmental problems facing Lake Baikal.
The aim of the meeting was to draw attention to the threat of pollution to the world's 'fresh water well', as Baikal is often referred to. Participants explained that the relaunch of the Pulp and Paper mill, which will start anew the dumping of toxic waste into the lake, exists as the biggest problem facing Baikal.
The main demand made by the assembled to the president was the abolition of order № 1, passed in on the 13th January 2010, which lifted the ban on the dumping of hazardous waste of the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill into Lake Baikal. Irkutsk residents also addressed the Regional Governor and urged him to fulfill his duty to the people of the region and prevent the re-launch of dangerous industry.
The Governor of the Irkutsk Region and the mayor of Irkutsk were invited to the rally. The organizers offered them the opportunity to come and express their position on one of the most acute problems of the region. However, no representatives of the authorities turned up.
Participants declared that the demands of the various rallies in defense of Lake Baikal which have been held in different Russian have being ignored. However, they will continue their struggle for the purity of the unique lake.
There was also good news. The day before the rally, news arrived of a similar situation in St. Petersburg, where the authorities were planning to build a huge skyscraper in the historical part of the city, contrary to will of citizens and violating the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. President D, Medvedev took the side of the public and demanded strict observance of Russia's international obligations, and to prevent harming Russia's reputation. Environmentalists have expressed the hope that the same position will be taken in respect to Lake Baikal as a World Natural Heritage site.
At the rally, a new song 'My Lake Baikal' by Irkutsk authors was presented. There was also a small performances involving a huge man with bloodied hands, symbolizing the greed of businessmen, and environmentalists, who beat the anti-hero.
Organisers decided not to hold the planned march, so as not to block roadways in downtown Irkutsk.
Instead, the protesters passed a banner around the circle and joined hands to symbolize that they would be ready to protect the lake using a human wall.
Videos of the rally can be viewed HERE: