Sakharov: Who Murdered Lake Baikal?

The planet's oldest, deepest and largest lake, Baikal is about the size of Belgium and accounts for a fifth of the world's freshwater reserves. The threat to this unique ecosystem, home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals unknown anywhere else, stimulated a vociferous Soviet environmental movement. Baikal, says Siberian activist Valentin Rasputin, contains "such pulchritude as to be unimaginable this side of paradise."

It is a precious resource, an area of surpassing natural beauty, a source of national pride and, to some extent, the very symbol of our nation. For several years, newspapers had been publishing alarming reports...

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