Russian environmentalists protest lakeside factory, highway

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Around 200 activists gathered Sunday in the centre of the Russian city of Saint Petersburg to protest the impact on the environment of a series of government projects.

Among the schemes at the centre of the protest organised by Greenpeace was a plan to reopen a cellulose factory on the shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia as well as a stalled project to build a highway through a forest near Moscow.

The cellulose factory had closed in October 2008 but Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved its reopening earlier this year despite warnings by ecologists of its impact on the lake's eco-system and the development of tourism.

The highway project, which forms part of a road linking Moscow with Saint Petersburg, is to cut through the Khimki forest, although it was put on hold by President Dmitry Medvedev over the summer following widespread protests.

Despite Medvedev's order, many environmentalists fear that the project will be resumed at a later date.

© 2010 AFP

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